Sunburn for 8/11 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

in Uncategorized by

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: Pack the cooler and load up the car, because today is Play in the Sand Day! With Florida’s Florida’s 1,800 miles of coastline, it’s no surprise the Sunshine State is home to four of the nation’s top ten beaches. Did you know that wherever you go in Florida, you’re never more than 60 miles from a beach? (But don’t forget your sunscreen – or you might wind up in this column.)

Now, on to the ‘burn…

2016 WATCH: A MUST-READ INTERVIEW WITH HILLARY CLINTON via Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic

Professional Clinton-watchers (and there are battalions of them) have told me that it is only a matter of time before she makes a more forceful attempt to highlight her differences with the (unpopular) president she ran against, and then went on to serve. On a number of occasions during my interview with her, I got the sense that this effort is already underway. (And for what it’s worth, I also think she may have told me that she’s running for president-see below for her not-entirely-ambiguous nod in that direction.) …

This is what Clinton said about Obama’s slogan: ‘Great nations need organizing principles, and “Don’t do stupid stuff” is not an organizing principle.’ She softened the blow by noting that Obama was ‘trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy,’ but she repeatedly suggested that the U.S. sometimes appears to be withdrawing from the world stage. During a discussion about the dangers of jihadism (a topic that has her ‘hepped-up,’ she told me moments after she greeted me at her office in New York) and of the sort of resurgent nationalism seen in Russia today, I noted that Americans are quite wary right now of international commitment-making.

She responded by arguing that there is a happy medium between bellicose posturing … and its opposite, a focus on withdrawal. ‘You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward,’ she said. ‘One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.’ I responded by saying that I thought that ‘defeating fascism and communism is a pretty big deal.’ …

Clinton responded … with great enthusiasm: ‘That’s how I feel! Maybe this is old-fashioned.’ And then she seemed to signal that, yes, indeed, she’s planning to run for president. ‘Okay, I feel that this might be an old-fashioned idea, but I’m about to find out, in more ways than one.’ …

JG: “There is an idea in some quarters that the administration shows signs of believing that we, the U.S., aren’t so great, so we shouldn’t be telling people what to do.”

HRC: “I know that that is an opinion held by a certain group of Americans, I get all that. It’s not where I’m at.”

JG: “What is your organizing principle, then?”

HRC: “Peace, progress, and prosperity. This worked for a very long time. Take prosperity. … If we don’t restore the American dream for Americans, then you can forget about any kind of continuing leadership in the world. Americans deserve to feel secure in their own lives, in their own middle-class aspirations, before you go to them and say, ‘We’re going to have to enforce navigable sea lanes in the South China Sea.’ You’ve got to take care of your home first. That’s another part of the political messaging that you have to engage in right now.

People are not only turned off about being engaged in the world, they’re pretty discouraged about what’s happening here at home. I think people want … to make sure our economic situation improves and that our political decision-making improves. Whether they articulate it this way or not, I think people feel like we’re facing really important challenges here at home: The economy is not growing, the middle class is not feeling like they are secure, and we are living in a time of gridlock and dysfunction that is just frustrating and outraging.

People assume that we’re going to have to do what we do so long as it’s not stupid, but what people want us to focus on are problems here at home. If you were to scratch below the surface on that-and I haven’t looked at the research or the polling-but I think people would say, first things first. Let’s make sure we are taking care of our people and we’re doing it in a way that will bring rewards to those of us who work hard, play by the rules, and yeah, we don’t see the world go to hell in a handbasket, and they don’t want to see a resurgence of aggression by anybody.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks, a trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services to businesses of all sizes, from startups to large, multi-site organizations. Our Enterprise Solutions provides the fiber connectivity, cloud and managed services  today’s large organizations demand, while our Business  Solutions team works with small to mid-size companies to ensure they get the right services to fit their needs and their budget. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks.  Learn more at ***


ACTUAL HEADLINE via The Washington Post: “As midterms near, voters have a lot on their minds: But in an unusual twist, no single issue is driving debate”


Expanding Medicaid to an additional 1 million Floridians under President Barack Obama’s new health law is turning into one of the biggest issues of this year’s gubernatorial race.

Crist brings up the topic on most campaign stops and says one of the first things he’ll do if elected is call a special session to expand Medicaid. Gov. Scott seems to be waning in his support.

Scott says he’s open to taking roughly $51 billion over the next decade from the federal government, but only as long as Florida taxpayers aren’t left with the bill.

In a surprise move two years ago, Scott made an emotional speech, saying that Medicaid expansion was a compassionate, common-sense choice. But he never put his full political weight behind the issue and the Legislature rejected expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Scott has since backed away from his position, telling MSNBC earlier this year: “I said while the federal government is going to pay 100 percent, I won’t stand in the way of the Legislature wanting to do more. But the Legislature made the decision … not to go forward.”

A spokesman for Scott said Saturday that the governor’s position has not changed, but emphasized he believes Florida should only expand Medicaid if it does not cost state taxpayers.

Earlier this week, Crist, a Republican-turned-Democrat, said he would work with the GOP-controlled Legislature and urge them “to forget about the party affiliations and do what’s right for our fellow Floridians … we can get it done and we owe it to them.”

HOT SPOTS EMERGE FOR SCOTT, CRIST IN EARLY CAMPAIGNING via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of the Naples Daily News

They’ve campaigned in Apopka and Gainesville, shaken hands in St. Petersburg and Estero, and snapped plenty of photos with supporters weekly in South Florida.

Since May, Gov. Scott and Crist have been traveling the state gearing up for the November gubernatorial election.

But while Scott has crisscrossed the state on his campaign swings, a Scripps-Tribune analysis of public campaign schedules found Crist has spent much of the last three months in South Florida.

“It’s a little different for Scott because he doesn’t have much of a primary. He’s running a general election strategy. He wants to look at different regions, identify where he’s the strongest and shore up the base,” said Chris Ingram, a Tampa-based political consultant. “Crist has Nan Rich to deal with, even though everyone assumes he’s going to win.

“South Florida is where the real base of voters (are for a) Democrat running statewide. That’s a voter-rich area.”

COOL MAP: Where are Scott  and Crist campaigning? Click here.

NASTY GOVERNOR’S RACE SPELLS TROUBLE FOR FLORIDA’S FUTURE via Steve Bousquet and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

The race for governor of Florida features two leading candidates voters increasingly see as deeply flawed with campaign strategies virtually alike: Tear down the other guy at every turn.

Gov. Scott and Charlie Crist … have spent more time criticizing each other than laying out a future vision on major issues such as water, climate change, gaming, property insurance, economic policy or taxes.

The candidates, their operatives and third-party groups relentlessly drive a message that their opponent is untrustworthy, unethical or incompetent. Their campaigns eagerly amplify the mud-slinging in news releases, social media messaging and television ads, and their policy papers lack details on a host of deadlines facing the next governor will face.

Political scientists, consultants and even former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who served two terms as governor, warn that the lack of vision in the governor’s race spells trouble for Florida.

The campagin’s negative tone is likely to alienate the state’s rapidly growing pool of unaffiliated, no-party voters, they say. If turnout is suppressed, and the third-party candidate on the November ballot gets a significant slice of the vote, the winner could be elected by less than a majority — seriously impeding the next governor’s ability to lead the state for the next four years.

Graham warned that if there are tough decisions before the Legislature on education, taxes, health or the environment, “neither candidate will be able to say, ‘I ran in order to accomplish these goals; the people elected me. Now, Legislature, let’s put our shoulder to the wheel and get it done.’”

A politically-wounded governor will have his power shift to the Legislature, experts say.


One of the Crist campaign’s biggest supporters is the Florida Education Association, the state’s top teachers’ union. Crist received a May endorsement from the group, which is one of the Democrats’ lone remaining bastions of statewide support.

The union opposes the emergence of private charter school management companies that oversee dozens of schools with growing enrollments, and the Tax Credit Scholarship, a program offering tax credits to companies that help pay for school choice scholarships for low-income students.

As governor, Crist gave his full-throated supported to those programs, but read talking points written by the groups backing them.

Crist administration records reviewed by the Scripps-Tribune Capital Bureau show that during public speeches, Crist read “talking points” or “talkers” prepared by Charter School USA, one of the country’s biggest private charter school companies, and Step Up for Students, the group that runs the tax credit scholarships. Both are politically powerful groups with large lobbying teams.

It’s common for elected officials to read talking points written by staff during speeches or public appearances. It’s less common for elected leaders to read talking points, which highlight positive attributes about a program, written by a group that’s the subject of a governor’s speech.

The information is included on “event information sheets” prepared by staff during the Crist administration. Scripps-Tribune reviewed more than 300 event sheets from 2007-10.

Beyond the education-related talking points, the only other similar scenario was “draft remarks” provided by Florida Film for events in 2008 and 2009. That group is much less high-profile, and doesn’t stoke the type of partisan fights waged over education policy.


Would a token one-hour debate against Rich really have been such a burden? After all, it would have gotten Crist some free airtime in the dead summer months, a way to counteract the blitz of negative ads the Republicans are already throwing at him. And it would have sharpened his debate skills before the November main event.

“I don’t have time,” Crist said about debating Rich.

How lame. And how arrogant, considering this is his debut race as a Democrat.

“I do think it’s disrespectful,” Rich said. “I’m certainly a legitimate candidate who has dedicated many years to the issues and public service.”

Crist should realize he’s going to need every vote he can get come November, especially among hardcore liberals/progressives in Rich’s backyard — Broward and Palm Beach counties — and women throughout the state. Being this dismissive of Rich can’t help.


In terms of campaign basics – money, name recognition and organization – the Florida Republican primary for governor is a mismatch of titanic proportions.

The front-runner, Gov. Scott, has spent $20 million on television advertising –much of it either promoting his role in Florida’s economic recovery or blistering his expected opponent in November … Crist.

The primary isn’t on his mind.

“I don’t think you’ll see any change in our message. We don’t plan anything different for the primary,” said Scott spokesman Greg Blair.

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm.  Visit to read about their growing team, success stories and case studies.***



Florida legislative committees approved a proposal to make slight changes to seven congressional districts to comply with a court order.

Panels in both the House and Senate passed the new map altering the districts, which stretch from central to northeast Florida. A final vote in the full House and Senate on the new map is expected this week.

… Republican legislative leaders defended their new maps as the best way to comply with the court order without disturbing other districts throughout the state while obeying the federal Voting Rights Act’s prohibition against undercutting minority districts.

“I think we did an excellent job. I’m very proud of it,” said Rep. Richard Corcoran. “(Judge Lewis) clearly said legally why we had to be here. We addressed all of his legal concerns.”

But the League of Women Voters, which brought the lawsuit, contends that small changes to the map are not enough. The group takes particular issue with District 5, currently held by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville – a skinny district running from Jacksonville to Orlando that was designed to produce a majority African-American district. The league prefers a district that runs west from Jacksonville to the heart of the Panhandle.

MUST-SEEA detailed look at what each district is losing and gaining

BILL GALVANO NOT PUT OUT via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Galvano is chairman of the Senate committee that is drawing up the new districts that will be presented to the full Florida Legislature this week.

“I’m so appreciative that they would have the confidence in me to ask me,” said Galvano, who was elected to the Senate in 2012 after the first redistricting maps were passed.

It’s made a mess out of Galvano’s personal schedule. he has had to reschedule client meetings in his law practice in Bradenton, missed a dentist appointed, skipped a wedding he wanted to attend and won’t be home in the final week as his three children prepare to go back to school next week.

“It’s tough, that’s for sure,” Galvano said of his obliterated August schedule.

But Galvano said the redistricting is such a critical issue that he could not say no when Senate President Gaetz asked him to lead the panel.

“This is extraordinarily important and involves two branches of the government,” Galvano said of the legislative and judicial.

TWEET, TWEET: @JimmyPatronis: Ok. I’m up for #seersucker tomorrow for session, any other takers on @MyFLHouse


The selection process for who will grow Florida’s first state authorized  marijuana crop grew more unclear. The Senate sponsor of the Charlotte’s Web law said he didn’t have a game of chance in mind when he directed the Department of Health to create a licensing process for a medicinal marijuana industry.

“As a sponsor of the Charlotte’s Web bill, I can tell you that the legislature contemplated that medical marijuana dispensaries would be run by organizations selected on the basis of their expertise and performance, not through the luck of a draw,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes.

Florida doctors will be able to order a cannabis extract to treat patients starting Jan. 1. The bill authorizing the cultivating, processing and distributing of oil from a marijuana plant divides the state into five regions with one license each for a grower to operate.

DOH is creating rules to implement the law and has proposed a lottery among qualified applicants to award the licenses.  Lobbyists, lawyers, growers and patient advocates have opposed the idea at two public hearings.

A gathering number of lawmakers are telling the department a lottery is not the way to go.

“(It) does not ensure the patient care, or the best quality product,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens. “It is basically like taking a dart and throwing it at a wall and whatever it hits, that’s the person who’s going to be providing us with our medicine.”

TALLAHASSEE-REGION LAWMAKERS GET NO RESPECT via Bill Cotterell for the Tallahassee Democrat

With no disrespect for the current crop, there was an era when Leon County did a lot better in the Legislature. There were presiding officers like Pat Thomas in the Senate and Don Tucker in the House, Mallory Horne in both chambers, a rules and appropriations chairman like Herb Morgan and long-serving members like Al Lawson in either chamber.

With term limits and the shift of power to Republicans from the I-4 corridor, we won’t see their like again. Loranne Ausley, Curtis Richardson and a few others did yeoman’s work in trying to make the conservative leadership take state employment seriously, but legislators from other parts of the state really have no political incentive to care much.

Of course, state jobs, salaries and insurance aren’t the only things Big Bend legislators have to care about. They vote on education, crime, roads, environmental protection and everything that concerns their colleagues from across the state.

It would be nice if our legislators could persuade those conservative Republicans that the staff is a legitimate, permanent expense to be budgeted like anything else. But there’s no political gain for legislators going back to Sarasota or Jacksonville or Pensacola and saying they took care of the people who carry out all those policies and projects they’ve enacted.

***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***


Prompted by a Northwest Florida Daily News story about Rep. Matt Gaetz’s use of PACs to influence local races, John Whitley, a state committeeman of Okaloosa County for the Florida Democratic Party, and Gaye Ellis, the chairwoman of the Okaloosa County Republican Executive Committee, reached agreement that there’s too much outside money sloshing around local races.

“The Northwest Florida Daily News has focused on a Tallahassee PAC which has local ties, but there are other PACs influencing our local election with no local ties at all,” Ellis said. “This outside influence puts a damper on the phrase: ‘We the people.’ The people of Okaloosa County have the ability to govern themselves.”

Although no names were mentioned at the news conference, Whitley was asked who he was talking about, and said it was Gaetz, who is the focus of the Daily News story.

Gaetz has established two political committees of his own, and he’s working with similar committees and groups across the state to accumulate large amounts of money.

The dollars have thus far flowed from the committees into the campaign funds of selected local candidates, but history shows committee funds can also go toward political advertisements that can’t be tied to a particular person.

District 4 County Commission prospect Trey Goodwin is one of the local candidates on the receiving end of Gaetz’s fundraising efforts. He makes no apologies for that. Goodwin not only got a direct $500 donation from Gaetz, but he also has been the beneficiary of two $500 donations from the Economic Freedom Foundation and two $500 donations from the Free Enterprise Fund. The Florida Division of Elections lists Gaetz as the chair of both.


In the increasingly combative battle for Lakeland’s House District 40 GOP primary, Colleen Burton continues her lead in the money race, by adding another $10,050 between July 26 and Aug. 1.

Burton’s fundraising effort was nearly double that of John Shannon, who took in $5,150 in the same weeklong reporting period, according to newly filed Division of Elections reports.

Burton, a former executive director for Polk Vision, raised a total of $150,870 in the race to replace term-limited Rep. Seth McKeel for the Republican-leaning seat covering metropolitan Lakeland and much of Polk County. With a major advertising buy, including $26,000 to Maryland-based Mentzer Media Services Towson, Burton spent $40,915, for $100,768 spent to date. It leaves her with $50,102 on hand.

A Lakeland attorney and Marine Corps veteran, Shannon now brings his total to $104,060. He had spent $8,547 during the week, mostly to Strategic Management for print and other media buys. So far, Shannon’s expenditures are $84,183, bringing him to $19,877 cash on hand.


Republican Chris Sprowls continued the fundraising momentum in his House District 65 bid against incumbent Democrat Rep. Carl “Z” Zimmerman.

The Tarpon Springs Republican added $3,000 from July 26 to Aug. 1 for an overall total of $184,401 in the race for region covering parts of north Pinellas County, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and East Lake.

According to the most recent filings with the state Division of Elections, Sprowls spent $30,776 in the weeklong period, for $121,761 in total expenditures. That leaves him with $64,640 cash on hand.

In contrast, Zimmerman reported only $950 in fundraising and $15,073 in-kind support, mostly from the Democratic Party for polling services and campaign staff expenses. His total of $76,626 is only about 40 percent of the amount raised by Sprowls, a first time Republican candidate with several key endorsements in the race.

Zimmerman spent $1,953 during the reporting period, for a total expenditure of $11,504, leaving him with cash on hand of $65,221, roughly on par with Sprowls’ war chest.


Republican state Rep. Kathleen Peters was endorsed … by the antiabortion group Florida Right to Life, which doesn’t sound surprising on the surface.

Except for one thing: Less than a year ago, National Right to Life labeled her a “pro-abortion state Rep.” and claimed she had a “100% pro-abortion voting record.”

Peters said she was pleased to receive the state group’s endorsement because it reflects her “core values.”

“I’ve been a child advocate my entire life,” Peters said.

In a letter released by Peters’ campaign, Florida Right to Life said its endorsement “reflects your ongoing commitment to strengthening the culture for life throughout your time in elected office.”

But last December, National Right to Life apparently thought the opposite.

At the time, Peters was a candidate for the Republican nomination to the Pinellas congressional seat that was left vacant by the death of Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young. She was running against two other Republicans.

POWER STRUGGLE ENGULFS HD 74 RACE via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

The two candidates running in the GOP primary on Aug. 26 have raised a combined $560,102, new campaign financing reports show. In addition, at least four political action committees funding television ads and mailers have pumped another $556,986 into the race.

Total verified cost: $1.1 million

The inflated price tag for the $30,000-a-year job shows the race has become about far more than just who can fix River Road in North Port or clean up Dona Bay near Venice.

Republicans Julio Gonzalez and Richard DeNapoli are the two candidates on the ballot. But for Tallahassee insiders their fight is as much about Orlando Republican Eric Eisnaugle and Tampa Republican Chris Sprowls, who are battling over who will be Florida’s Speaker of the House in 2020.

Since July 1, a political group Eisnaugle runs has poured $60,000 into a pair of committees supporting Gonzalez, which have since launched attack ads on DeNapoli. Gonzalez supports Eisnaugle.

On the other side, a group supporting Sprowls funneled $33,000 to a committee supporting DeNapoli, which has run attacks against Gonzalez. DeNapoli supports Sprowls.

It does not end there. Tallahassee lobbyists have followed suit by donating thousands to the two campaigns with hopes of getting on the right side of whoever becomes the speaker in 2020.

BY THE WAY: Chris Sprowls’ district is miles from “Tampa.”

JUDGE WON’T REINSTATE LAURA LEVEY IN HD 113 via Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald

Republican Laura Rivero Levey was disqualified from the race last month after a check she submitted to the Florida Department of State bounced.

The bank accepted responsibility for the returned check, and Levey sued to have her candidacy reinstated. But … Leon County Judge Charles Francis said he could not extend the qualifying deadline for her.

Francis said state law is clear: Candidates must pay the filing fee before qualifying period ends.

“I find this to be a very harsh decision,” he said. “In fact, I don’t think there is anything the candidate could have done differently that would have changed what happened during the week… But I am bound by the precedent that says when the legislature speaks as to a particular item, I am not to guess at what it means.”

The ruling means incumbent David Richardson will be automatically re-elected.

Richardson was already told he was the official winner. But he was waiting on the ruling to close out his campaign accounts.


The Tallahassee Democrat takes a look at the race for House District 8 here.

***The Public Affairs Consultants Team of Jack Cory, Keyna Cory and Erin Daly Ballas guide their clients through the legislative, state agency and local government process. They do so by providing governmental consulting, lobbying and professionally coordinated grassroots programs for businesses, professionals, non-profits, local governments and associations. Recently named a Leading Association LobbyistThey Cover Florida Like the Sun.***

APPOINTED: Nancy Acevedo and Dhyana Ziegler to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.

APPOINTED: Douglas Bournique, Jill Creech, Kelly Smallridge, and Peter Sachs to the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council.


The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy announced on Friday that Mark Kaplan has joined the nonprofit’s Board of Directors.

Kaplan is the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and a member of the corporate Senior Leadership Team for The Mosaic Company, the world’s leading producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate and potash crop nutrients. Kaplan previously served as Chief of Staff to Jeb Bush and on Florida’s State Board of Education, the seven-member volunteer body that oversees K-12 public education and the state college system.

“I am passionate about the power of education and honored to join the board of The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.” Kaplan stated, “Working first-hand with the Bush family, I have seen their strong commitment to providing early learning and high-quality education opportunities for all children in the United States and am looking forward to building on that important work.”

“We are honored to welcome Mark Kaplan to our board,” Foundation President Liza McFadden stated, “Having had the opportunity to work with Mark previously, I am appreciative of the thoughtful and deliberative manner with which he approaches complex issues.  His integrated experience with nonprofit, business and government leadership supports our efforts to work across sectors.”

BROWARD CONTRACT UP FOR GRABS via Brittany Wallman of the Sun-Sentinel

On Sept. 30, the county’s contracts with five lobbyists, including homegrown Broward superlobbyist Ron Book, expire.

The county three years ago approved the contracts, and “there are no further renewal periods available,” a county memo says.

Here’s who has the work right now, for state lobbying: Ericks Consultants Inc., $53,000, Ronald L. Book, $53,000, William J. Peebles, $40,000 plus $1,000 for office space, Tripp Scott, $40,000, plus $2,000 for ancillary services (lobby team meetings), Pittman Law Group, $35,000.

It’s unclear why this item is coming to the County Commission at the 11th hour, leaving no possibility of competitive bidding.

Among the options are to continue month-to-month and make a decision after the November election, continue month to month while putting out a competitive solicitation, or extend the contracts a year.


Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: International Atlantic, LLC

Brian Ballard, Michael Abrams, Chris Hansen, Ballard Partners: Grandiflora

Brad Burleson, Ballard Partners; Martin County Board of County Commissioners

Travis Blanton, Jon Johnson, Johnson & Blanton: Florida Voices for Choices

Chris Clark: Florida Medical Association (It’s official!)

Michael Corcoran, Matt Blair, Michael Cantens, Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: SunScope Capital, Inc

Jordan Connors: Place of Hope

Chris Dudley, Towson Fraser, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce

Candice Ericks, Adams Street Advocates: Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association

Thornton Williams: Florida Electric Power Coordinating Group, Inc.; Hill International

Cameron Yarbrough: Calpine Corporation


Welcome to Walt Disney World Resort, home to giant glittering pools, a Cinderella Castle, and joyful political fundraisers. This year, the park has become a popular locale for the pricey campaign events of Southern Republican candidates.

Walt Disney World is a popular destination for political fundraisers this cycle.

There were sightings of lawmakers living it up as recently as March. In a joint fundraiser, Reps. Tom Price and Mick Mulvaney, took to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – it’s right next to the Magic Kingdom, you can’t miss it — to entertain their guests with a big dinner and a fireworks show. Donations of $2,500 per PAC or $1,500 per individual to either lawmaker bought you a baseball game-packed weekend and accommodations — negotiated at “the fabulous rate of $245/ night!,” according to an invitation uploaded to the Sunlight Foundation’s Political Party Time website. Regular rates for a single room at the hotel start at around $500.

Fundraising in the family-friendly resort is nothing new, but in the past the park mostly attracted local politicians. In 2010, Rep. Alan Grayson held a $2,500-a-pop (and $5,000 per PAC) party in the park. In 2008, former Rep. Adam Putnam threw a Weekend at Walt Disney party for $2,500 per guest, in case anyone had missed the more low-key Bourbon Tasting event held a week before.

While Walt Disney Co. clearly leans to the left in its political contributions, that hasn’t stopped the resort from welcoming state lawmakers of both parties with open arms. From 2001 to 2007, the park gave more than $571,000 in freebies, including accommodations, food and beverages, to state parties, according to a 2008 report by the Orlando Sentinel.

SPOTTED: Slater Bayliss, outside of Wrigley Field.

SPOTTED: Tim Stapleton, taking in batting practice before the Rays vs. Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

***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: On the “Let’s Keep Florida Beautiful” tour, Gov. Rick Scott promises a second term of spending large to remedy collapsing ecosystems, fish kills, algae-choked waters and even $1 billion for Everglades restoration, says Diane Roberts. After three-plus years of unapologetically raining what Roberts calls “untreated waste” on the state’s environment, Scott wants voters to believe he is a born-again Green. Scott’s most-recent digital ad complains that Charlie Crist flew on a plane whose owner had previously paid a civil fine for an environmental violation. Dan Gelber notes that later, Scott launched another stunning broadside against Crist, this time accusing Crist of moving his apartment from a higher floor in his building to a slightly lower floor without changing his address with state agencies. Gelber calls it desperation. Former U. S. Senator Bob Graham is back on the campaign trail, this time helping his daughter Gwen, who is running for Congress. Bruce Ritchie writes that the former Florida governor loves it. Marc Yacht says the problem with politics is that there is simply no trust. Citizens are convinced that elected officials are not capable of honoring promises.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL: WHITE STUDENTS NO LONGER THE MAJORITY via Kimberly Hefling of the Associated Press

For the first time ever, U.S. public schools are projected this fall to have more minority students than non-Hispanic whites enrolled, a shift largely fueled by growth in … Hispanic children. Non-Hispanic white students are still expected to be the largest racial group in the public schools this year at 49.8 percent. But the National Center for Education Statistics says minority students, when added together, will now make up the majority.

>>>Graphicwith year-by-year breakdown click here.


A blog post titled “On the power of Adam Smith” coming on the same day as his “Who Is Charlie Crist?” profile almost certainly is a react piece to that magnus opus, but it’s not. No, this is just a blurb about Smith’s power to highlight material which has been in the public sphere for at least two years — and how silly some in Florida politics look for believing there is something new under the sun.

Online and in the Sunday print edition of the Tampa Bay TimesSmith writes about how Tallahassee no longer fits as Florida’s capital. “It made sense to put Florida’s capital in Tallahassee back when it was the center the state’s plantation economy. … But for nearly 100 years it’s been hard to argue that Tallahassee — at least a four-hour drive from Tampa and about eight from Miami — remains a logical spot for Florida’s seat of government.”

Smith then reminds his readers that efforts to move the seat of government to Orlando fizzled after lawmakers built the expensive, phallic-looking Capitol building.

So far, there’s nothing wrong with this history lesson. Smith, like myself and so many others, was probably at his wits’ end at having to drive to and from Tallahassee and needed to vent. Then Smith writes about why the capital should be moved: “A compelling new argument comes from a couple of academics, Filipe Campante of Harvard University and Quoc-Anh Do of the Institute of Political Studies in Paris: Corruption breeds more easily in isolated state capitals.”

Note that word “new.”

Campate and Do do indeed have their study published in the American Economic Review and it does correlate the isolation of capital cities with an increase in greater levels of corruption across U.S. states.

But this is not a new study. Campate and Do have been working this story for years. The only thing new here is Smith’s highlighting of their work.

In fact, it was over two years ago that Campate and Do had their work highlighted in the Los Angeles Times. I know, because I blogged about it then.

Yet Smith’s blog post about this study is at this hour the “Most Read” item on, a ranking owed, no doubt, to the collective narcissism of Tallahassee. And this speaks to the power of Adam Smith. No one else in Florida political media could highlight a rerun from more than two years ago and make it the talk of the town.

***CoreMessage is a full-service communications and issues advocacy firm with the experience, relationships and expertise to help you get your message out. Connected at the state capitol and throughout Florida, the CoreMessage team unites issues with advocates, messages with media and innovative solutions with traditional tactics to get results. Follow CoreMessage on Twitter and visit them on the Web at***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to my dear friend, Jack Cory, and Sen. Jeremy Ring, Context Florida contributor Jim McClellan and former state Representative Sandy Murman.

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.