Sunburn for 10/2 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

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… BUMPY START IN FLORIDA via The Associated Press

After months of build-up, Florida residents were met with technology glitches Tuesday as they tried shopping for health insurance for the first time on government-run online marketplaces, a key component of the Affordable Care Act. Many were unable to enroll, but federal health officials stressed the program was nevertheless off to a good start.

Consumers logging onto received an apology message for delays due to high traffic. The wait times at the call center and for an online chat operator were also longer than expected. More than 2.8 million people visited the site in the past day; and there were seven times more users on the website Tuesday morning than had ever been on the Medicare website. The online speed is gradually improving and the problems are being fixed, said Marilyn Tavenner, an administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“This is day one of a process. We’re in a marathon, not a sprint,” she said.


CNN reports “entrepreneurs in the 35 exchanges being partly or fully run by the federal government won’t be able to complete their enrollment online until November 1.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that Wisconsin’s marketplace “is experiencing waits and other glitches… A separate early attempt to check the system by a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Monday found delays and other issues entering information through drop-down menus.”

NBC News reports that “Maryland’s site for enrolling people crashed early Tuesday morning… Spanish-language websites are not quite ready.”

New York’s marketplace, NY State of Health, says it is experiencing log in issues after experiencing “2 million visits in the first 2 hours of the site launch.” However, the exchange’s Twitter feed is responding to every person who tweets about the issue and instructs them to enroll by phone.

… PAM BONDI TAKES TO FOX via Michael Van Sickler of the Times/Herald

No one has been more critical of the Affordable Care Act than Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi, so it was perhaps no surprise to find her on Fox News on Tuesday morning — the first day people could sign up for the subsidized health insurance.

But rather than play her usual role as the law’s main antagonist, Bondi instead sounded no loud alarms about how the law would be detrimental to Floridians. Instead she sounded more concerned about how the law was being implemented during a five-minute interview with Fox’s Martha MacCallum.

“There’s still so much uncertainty involved in this,” Bondi said. “And you know the technology is still very very complicated, and whether people can get accurate information about plans available and what federal subsidies exist or they qualify for, that’s yet to be seen — how they’re able to navigate this”


It was Florida’s Department of Health that issued an order last month to prohibit navigators from county health departments out of privacy concerns that Bondi has shared repeatedly at Cabinet meetings and on Fox. The federal Health and Human Services Department called the state’s order “another blatant and shameful attempt to intimidate groups” helping those seeking health care.

And on Tuesday, while Bondi shared her privacy concerns again, she also seemed concerned that the navigators would be able to do their jobs.

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That was the message from Senate Republican leaders and Democratic aides who said there is a growing likelihood that non-essential parts of the federal government remain shuttered for more than two weeks until lawmakers agree on how to increase the debt ceiling.

Two top Senate Democratic aides also said they thought the two issues would end up dovetailing together, saying that from their perspective the next move was up to House Republicans. Democrats are unlikely to negotiate with Republicans over a short-term government funding bill, so the delay will continue until House Republicans agree to take up a Senate-passed six-week funding bill.


There’s no easy answer, but Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich—and their intense shutdown standoffs of the 1990s—might be the Founding Fathers to today’s closure. And they just might be responsible for breaking Washington altogether. 


It’s important to note that the spending bill being considered by Congress actually already contains a big concession by Democrats. It continues the reduced spending levels already mandated by the sequester.

Democrats have not been very good about making that point.


The House speaker has publicly lacerated the “so-called exemption” lawmakers and their staffers receive for health insurance, but leaked emails show him working for months with Harry Reid and others to ensure the subsidies stayed in place under Obamacare. 

OBAMA: ‘I WILL NOT GIVE IN TO RECKLESS DEMANDS’ via Jackie Calmes of the New York Times

The president took to the Rose Garden on Tuesday to again castigate Republicans for their unwillingness to pass a continuing resolution that doesn’t attempt to defund Obamacare. Obama said the government will reopen only when “Republicans realize they don’t get to hold the entire economy hostage over ideological demands.”

TWEET, TWEET: @CDCgov: We’re sorry, but we will not be tweeting or responding to @ replies during the government shutdown. We’ll be back as soon as possible!


The always effervescent folks over at Slate launched a new “If It Happened There” series today exploring how American events would be covered by the American media if they happened somewhere else in the world. The first installment tackles coverage of—what else?—the government shutdown, with sweeping generalizations about the “typical signs of state failure” and a discussion of the rise of Sen. Ted Cruz as “a young fundamentalist lawmaker from the restive Texas region, known in the past as a hotbed of separatist activity.” Will President Obama’s “embattled regime” weather the shutdown storm? Only dispatches from intrepid U.S. correspondents can let us know for sure. 

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MORE SHUTDOWN STORIES – FLORIDA STYLE via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

… THE DCCC SAID IT WAS PAYING FOR ROBOCALLS in some Republican districts, including Rep. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden. “While you were sleeping, Congressman Dan Webster shut down the government,” the script reads. “You heard that right. But even worse – Congressman Webster is still getting paid – and he’s not listening to our frustration. All because of his demand to take away your benefits and protect insurance company profits.”

… THE NRCC WENT AFTER REP. JOE GARCIA for a floor speech in which he compared Republicans to the Taliban. “The fact that he would call his own colleagues the ‘Taliban’ while we are in the midst of a crisis shows that not only is Garcia classless, but that he has no intention of working with his colleagues to end this shutdown,” said NRCC Spokeswoman Katie Prill.

… REP. LOIS FRANKEL QUOTED DR. SEUSS to make a point about the GOP.  “Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.”

… REP. TOM ROONEY SAID HE WOULDN’T ACCEPT PAY DURING A SHUTDOWN. “How could I justify cashing a paycheck from the taxpayers while the government is shut down because we couldn’t do our job?” Expect a lot more of this from Florida lawmakers as the standoff continues.


Ross admitted to National Journal the budget showdown isn’t a winner for the Republican party and that Obamacare would be implemented despite GOP efforts.

“Ultimately that’s going to happen, in my opinion,” said Ross. “We have voted 41 times to defund it or get rid of it. If my people back home say: Oh my gosh you voted to fund Obamacare, so be it. We’ve lost this battle. We need to move on to the next one.”

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Another interesting tidbit from the new Quinnipiac poll … 

Looking at the 2014 Congressional races, voters pick a generic Democrat over a generic Republican candidate 43% to 34%, the widest Democratic margin measured so far.

According to Politico, Speaker John Boehner “has privately warned House Republicans that they could lose their majority in 2014 as a result of shutting down the government.”

TWEET, TWEET: @KevinCerino: Democrats had a 9 point lead in generic ballot in 2009. How did 2010 elections go for them?


Time: “Democrats saw political advantage in the shutdown, with the Democratic National Committee saying that Monday, the eve of the shutdown, was its best fundraising day since last November’s election.”

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Democrat Charlie Crist leads Republican Rick Scott, 50 percent to 38 percent, according to a new poll of the Florida gubernatorial race by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Twelve percent are undecided, the survey found.

Incumbent Scott’s approval rating stands at 33 percent approve, 55 percent disapprove, while Crist’s favorables-unfavorables are about even at 43-42.

Scott is essentially tied with declared Democratic candidate Nan Rich, 37-36, the survey found.

PPP surveyed 579 voters from Sept. 27 to 29, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.


Post on Politics, Poll: Crist leads Scott 50-38; former Republican more popular with Dems than Rich” – As has been the case throughout 2013, Republican-turned-Democratic former Gov. Charlie Crist trounces Republican Gov.Rick Scott … Tampa Bay Times, Poll: Charlie Crist 50%, Rick Scott 38%” – It finds that 17 percent of those who say they voted for Mitt Romney would vote for Charlie Crist while 8 percent of Obama voters would vote for Scott … Jacksonville Times Union, Poll: Crist keeps double-digit lead over Scott; Nan Rich’s numbers getting better” – Though Crist is not yet in the race, it’s widely believed that he will seek his old job this time as a Democrat … Miami Herald, PPP: Rick Scott nearly ties Nan Rich, Charlie Crist wallops him” – The poll numbers haven’t hurt Scott’s fundraising, however, his Let’s Get to Work committee continues to pull in money hand over fist. … Saint Petersblog, Instant analysis: Key takeaways from today’s poll showing Crist up 12 over Scott” – Look for A LOT of pushback from Republicans to this poll because of what PPP did in a recent recall election in Colorado … Sunshine State News, Charlie Crist Beating Rick Scott in New PPP Poll” – Scott is upside down in the poll with 33 percent approving of his performance in Tallahassee and 55 percent disapproving of it. …POLITICO, Morning Score: Florida governor poll” – Twelve percent are undecided, the survey found.


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SCOTT, BONDI LOB ANOTHER WATER CHALLENGE AT GEORGIA via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

Despite two decades of squabbling over water-flows from Atlanta into the oyster trove of Apalachicola Bay, Florida and Georgia may find themselves in the courtroom for yet another round.

Gov. Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Tuesday that Florida had officially filed its complaint with the U.S. Supreme Court against Georgia “to stop its unchecked and growing consumption of water that continues to harm the families of Northwest Florida.”

 “Georgia has refused to fairly share the waters that flow between our two states, so to stop Georgia’s unmitigated consumption of water we have brought the matter before the U.S. Supreme Court,” Scott said in a statement. “Georgia’s over-consumption of water threatens the existence of Apalachicola Bay and the future economic development of the region.

TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: Spokesman for @GovernorDeal calls lawsuit over Apalachicola by Fla. & @FLGovScott “political theater and nothing more.”

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APPOINTED: David M. Buckles as Putnam County School Board Member, District Two.

POLICY NOTES with a h/t to The Florida Current and the News Service of Florida

Florida Ethics Conference and Attorney General’s Sunshine Summit: Held today through Friday at the Loews Royal Pacific, Orlando. The Thursday keynote speaker will be Senate President Don Gaetz. Other speakers include Pat Gleason, Special Counsel for Open Government for Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Virlindia Doss, executive director of the Florida Commission on Ethics. More information here.

TANF, KidCare caseloads tallied: The Social Services Estimating Conference will consider caseloads for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families public-assistance program and the KidCare subsidized health-insurance program at 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

State Council Executive Committee for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program: Meets via conference call at 10 a.m. The conference call meeting can be accessed at (888) 670-3525, participant code 7809307873. An agenda for the meeting is available here.

Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty: Holds a service of remembrance from noon to 1 p.m. — the day after the scheduled execution of Marshall Lee Gore. The event is to be held in the Plaza Level Rotunda of the Capitol. Contact is Sheila Meehan (850)524-0080.

St. Johns River Water Management District: Hosts a webinar to provide information about the changes to the Environmental Resource Permitting Program that take effect Tuesday as part of the statewide permitting process. The webinar will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. A link to registration can be found here.

5+2 Days of Opening Minds 2013: FSU chemistry and biochemistry professor Harry Kroto discusses “Science, Society and Responsibility” as part of the lecture series at 5:30 p.m. Kroto, a 1996 Nobel Prize winner, examines how the usefulness of science in creating our modern world has obscured the fact it is intrinsically a cultural concept involving the need for evidence to determine truth with any degree of reliability. It will be held in the Askew Student Life Center Theatre, 942 Learning Way, Tallahassee.

Florida Oceans and Coastal Council: Meets by teleconference at 3 p.m. Call-in number: 1-888-670-3525; conference code: 9593555203#.

TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: Another departure in Tally ed world: @kimwilmath leaving gig at Fla. Board of Governors to return to Tampa to work for USF.

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REP. DARRYL ROUSON, WIFE OWE $155K IN BACK TAXES via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times

Rouson and his wife failed to pay more than $155,000 in federal income taxes from 2008 through 2010, according to a lien filed by the Internal Revenue Service.

In one of those years, Rouson, a St. Petersburg attorney, made $565,000 working for the powerhouse law firm of Morgan & Morgan.

The IRS lien is the latest trouble for Rouson, who recently came under fire from fellow House Democrats for creating a party-related fundraising committee only he could control. His colleagues ousted him as incoming Democratic leader on Sept. 23, the day before the IRS filed its lien in Pinellas County circuit court.

“I don’t take this lightly,” Rouson said Tuesday. “I am working with my CPA and my tax attorney, and I’m very optimistic this will all get resolved.

“It’s been a tough summer,” he added.


Faced with omissions and confusing data in the 464-page draft report on gaming in Florida, the chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee on Tuesday said that legislators will give a week-long extension the Spectrum Gaming Group so that the company can refine the final draft that was due today.

“It’s more important to me that we get an accurate study as opposed to meeting some time deadline,” said Sen. Garrett Richter in an interview. “My rationale is if this is going to be the foundation we use to seek any policy it ought to be accurate.”

Legislative leaders have signed a $400,000 contract with Spectrum Gaming Group of Atlantic City to assess the economic impact of existing and expanded gambling on communities in Florida and offer some regulatory options before lawmakers draft legislation to revise the state’s gaming regulations and open the door to additional gaming outside of South Florida.

The first part of the report was delivered in July and the second part, detailing the economic impact of expanded gambling in various regions throughout the state, was due yesterday. 

Richter said the draft report includes data based on REMI models that “was confusing and difficult to understand.” Staff has asked the report’s authors to better explain their assumptions. Richter said he is encouraging the company to seek a one-week extension if House leaders agree and Spectrum requests it.

“It’s a higher proirty for the Senate to receive an accurate report which is reliable, meaningful and understandable, than it is to get something less than understandable sooner,” Richter said. The report will be completed in time for the Senate to discuss it at its scheduled hearing next week. 

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Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli, and Chairmen Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva, invite you to an event to benefit House Majority 2014.  Join them on Wednesday, October 30, at the Fountainbleau Miami Beach. The general reception will go from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Splash Room, and a VIP dinner from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. at the Hakkasan Restaurant.


In the open Jacksonville State House Seat being vacated by Rep. Daniel Davis, Paul Renner raised more than $60,000 in his first quarter as a candidate. 
“I am humbled by the outpouring of support from our community,” Renner, a veteran and former prosecutor,  said.  “If I am given the honor of serving, I will be a vocal advocate of common sense conservative policies that will help return Florida to economic stability and prosperity.”
Renner is an attorney and partner at Milam Howard Nicandri Dees and Gillam, P.A., where he represents many local businesses.  He has served as President of the Jacksonville Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society and as General Counsel to the Duval County Republican Party.  


According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls commissioned by SaintPetersBlog, the race is deadlocked with Republican Bill Gunter and Democrat Amanda Murphy both at 44% among likely voters. Twelve percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The poll has a larger-than-usual margin of error at 5.6% because of the small sample size available of voters who said they would cast a ballot in the October 15 special election. 

What would be a game-changer in the race would be for former state Representative turned Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano to endorse in the race. Fifty percent of likely voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate endorsed by Fasano, while 32% said they were unsure it would make a difference and 18% said they would be less likely to support a candidate backed by Fasano. If you do the math, Fasano’s endorsement is worth plus-32 points.

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The era of the K Street mega-firm could be drawing to a close.

At a time when many lobbying giants are struggling to maintain revenue, smaller shops are snagging clients and posting eye-popping revenue numbers that have turned “boutique” into an industry buzzword.

“At a small firm, you get to deeply engage in policy and politics while being an entrepreneur — and that combination is a heck of a lot of fun,” said Hunter Bates, a former staffer to Sen. Mitch McConnell, who recently founded his own firm.

Lobbyists, lawmakers and Capitol Hill staffers who are shaking up K Street culture say the desire for autonomy is the main thing driving them away from Washington’s power firms.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to GOP activist and fundraiser Phil Clark and Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

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.