A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
The week begins with the Inauguration of President Barack Obama and ends with a vote for the chairmanship of the Florida Democratic Party. In between is a holiday shortened week of committee meetings in the House and Senate, with the Senate’s ethics bill making its debut. The ethics changes are a major priority for both chambers’ leaders, and there’s talk that the ethics bill could be among the first to pass in the Legislature this year.
Senate committees are also studying gaming and the federal health care law on Tuesday, and getting an update on oil spill claims.
Mid-week a committee discusses safety on college campuses, and there will be discussion of digital learning, a top priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford.
Everglades restoration is also a theme this week, with a couple of different committees hearing updates on the progress to restore the system.
The News Service of Florida has a complete preview of the week here.
OBAMA’S SECOND TERM ACTUALLY BEGAN YESTERDAY
President Obama was quietly sworn into office for a second term just before noon on Sunday in a brief White House ceremony, a day before Monday’s far showier public inaugural events, adhering to a long tradition of doing so out of the public eye when Jan. 20 falls on a Sunday.
The oath was administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in the Blue Room, an elegant, gilded space with a sweeping view of the South Lawn. The bare-bones ceremony, typically lasting no more than three minutes, satisfies the constitutional requirement that the president’s swearing-in take place by noon on the Jan. 20 after an election.
BIDEN ALREADY SWORN-IN via Mike Allen of POLITICO
At 8:21 a.m. on Sunday, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. took the oath of office as Vice President of the United States for the second time, two miles from the White House at the Naval Observatory, the official vice-presidential residence. Biden was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor, who was nominated by President Barack Obama during his first year in office. Twelve members of Biden’s tight-knit family formed an arc behind him, and the 120 guests applauded as the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden walked in at 8:18 a.m.. The ceremony began with prayer. Then Dr. Biden held the five-inch-thick Biden Family Bible as her husband recited: “I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., do solemnly swear … “
Biden then told guests: “I want to explain to you what a wonderful honor it was, and how much out of her way the Justice had to go. She is due in New York. She has to leave right now. So I apologize: We’re gonna walk out. Her car’s waiting so she can catch a train I hope I haven’t caused her to miss. And I am leaving – going and gonna meet the President [for] the traditional laying the wreath at 2 over in Arlington. And we’re having breakfast. I’ll be back, they tell me, in 40 minutes. I hope of some you will still be here. [Laughter] But I thank you very, very, very much for sharing this morning with Jill and me. And Madame Justice, it’s been an honor – a great honor. Thank you! [Applause] Enjoy breakfast!”
INAUGURATION SUFFERING FROM DONOR FATIGUE by Tarini Parti
Where President George W. Bush cleaned up for his second inaugural – 45 companies gave $250,000 each – only nine companies have ponied up for Obama’s. … Southern Co. announced it gave $100,000 toward the inaugural effort, and ExxonMobil has pledged $250,000 … About 985 people had given to the committee as of last week when the list of donors was updated by the committee. Among them were five megadonors who supported Obama’s reelection – Landmark Medical Management CEO Kareem Ahmed; Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs; philanthropist Barbara Stiefel; media mogul Fred Eychaner; and author Amy Goldman. … [A]ctor Samuel L. Jackson was the only major star on the list. In 2009, the list of stars who gave to the president’s Inauguration included Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Sharon Stone, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Neil Diamond.
SECOND TERM ADVICE FOR OBAMA
Matthew Dowd gives President Obama 5 useful tips as he prepares to start his second term next week:
1. Turnover in staff and cabinet leadership. It is very important for a president to bring in new leaders in a second term. The folks that served in the first term are tired, exhausted, and lack much of the creativity needed to energize a second term.
2. Second term scandals. Be constantly aware and diligent in avoiding scandals and big mistakes that could doom the second term no matter the personnel or vision in place.
3. Rediscover first term vision. It is also important for President Obama to look back at the biggest things he didn’t accomplish in his first term and renew an effort to get that done.
4. Simplify second term agenda. Many Presidents have beleaguered second terms because they bit off way more than they could chew. They try to do too many things, and they end up not doing any of them well. Doing a few simple and direct things in a second term is the path to success.
5. Legacy. The final item President Obama should focus on is what is his political legacy post the second term. Who are the new brand of leaders he is bringing in and getting ready to carry on what he began?
CRIST HEADED TO INAUGURATION
Charlie Crist and wife Carole scored tickets to President Obama’s second inaugural next week, as a guest of the president. The former governor also accepted a “gracious” invitation to attend a reception at the White House on Monday night.
The former Republican governor, who is reaping the rewards for switching parties and endorsing Obama, tells the Palm Beach Post about going to his first inaugural as a Democrat.
Also, Crist says he is aware of a Public Policy Poll survey released last week showing him with a wide lead over Rick Scott in the 2014 governor’s race. However, Crist is still being coy about his plans.
“Those numbers are very humbling and it’s very nice to be thought of in that way. I just haven’t reached a decision yet and I think there’s plenty of time,” Crist said. “We’ve come through a pretty strenuous political season and I think people need a break.”
ANALYSIS: MORE THAN 200,000 WOULD BE VOTERS GAVE UP via the Orlando Sentinel
The long Election Day lines around Florida may have turned away more than 200,000 frustrated would-be voters who gave up and went home before they cast ballots — or else saw the lines and elected not to join them.
Analyzing data compiled by the Orlando Sentinel, Ohio State University professor Theodore Allen estimated last week that at least 201,000 voters likely gave up in frustration on Nov. 6, based on research Allen has been doing on voter behavior.
His preliminary conclusion was based on the Sentinel’s analysis of voter patterns and precinct-closing times in Florida’s 25 largest counties, home to 86 percent of the state’s 11.9 million registered voters.
“My gut is telling me that the real number [of voters] deterred is likely higher,” Allen said. “You make people wait longer, they are less likely to vote.”
***The PA Team of Jack and Keyna Cory and Erin Daly have represented clients before the Florida Legislature, state agencies and local governments for over 20 years. They don’t just show up for the legislative session. Instead they custom design and implement a Grassroots Program for each of their Clients that functions all year long. As one former legislator stated, “They are tough, well-organized, dedicated to their clients and in full command of the facts.”***
GOV. SCOTT INVOLVEMENT IN UF PRESIDENT SEARCH UNDER REVIEW via Tia Mitchell of the Times/Herald
The accrediting organization for colleges and universities is looking into Gov. Rick Scott’s involvement in the University of Florida’s presidential search.
Shortly after the Jan. 8 announcement that Scott had helped persuade UF President Bernie Machen to postpone retirement, a representative from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools told the Times/Herald it saw no cause for concern because UF Board of Trustees ChairmanDavid Brown was involved in the decision.
Since then, Scott’s office confirmed that the governor met with a potential candidate before asking Machen to stay. UF faculty have expressed concern that Scott was overstepping his authority and interfering in a decision that should be beyond his control.
SACS now tells the Times/Herald it is looking into the matter.
“We are aware of what’s going on and we’re reviewing it,” spokeswoman Pamela Cravey said.
ADAM SMITH’S LOSERS OF THE WEEK IN FLORIDA POLITICS: Gov. Rick Scott’s PR team. It’s public relations 101: Dissembling, stonewalling and barking at reporters is no way to kill a story. Instead of simply explaining what happened to the adopted dog Scott touted to the public, his team helped turn what should have been a couple paragraphs at best into a front-page story that spread across the country.
HENDERSON COLUMN: WHO IS THIS LIBERAL LIVING IN THE GOVERNOR’S MANSION?
It’s almost as if Scott decided the best way to beat Charlie Crist in 2014 is to be Charlie Crist. If one position doesn’t work, change your mind.
… A lot can happen between now and 2014. The economy could improve, enabling Scott to brag about jobs he created. If Bill McCollum can be painted as a liberal, think what the GOP can do with Charlie Crist. Then again, think what a Democratic challenger can do to Scott. You know what this state thinks of those liberals.
DID CRIST VOTE FOR SCOTT OR SINK IN 2010? “It’s a secret ballot, and I think that’s an important thing in our country,” Crist, now a registered Democrat, said in a Political Connections interview.
TWEET, TWEET: @MattGaetz: Liberal Lion Rep @MarkPafford calls @charliecristfl “consistently inconsistent” – we’ve never agreed more!
***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Ron Sachs Communication. Ron Sachs Communications provides its clients with a competitive advantage built on strategic relationships, dynamic creativity and smart and aggressive communications strategies that generate superior results. If you want to win, you’ll want to have Ron Sachs Communications on your side. www.RonSachs.com***
GAETZ: CONSIDER INTERNET SALES TAX, BUT NOT GUN CONTROL
Senate President Don Gaetz said the Legislature should consider finding ways to collect the sales tax on online purchases, but all but ruled out taking up any gun control proposals in 2013.
Speaking with the Tampa Bay Times‘ editorial board (via the News Service of Florida), Gaetz said he was open to discussing measures aimed at getting out-of-state businesses to collect the required sales tax on Internet sales. Democrats have proposed the idea as a way of closing the state’s budget gap for years. “I think that’s an anomaly in the tax code, maybe an inequity in the tax code, that seems to me we have to look at,” Gaetz said.
The Senate president also said he backs universal background checks for the purchase of guns, but he doesn’t anticipate that and other ideas for gun control to land on the Senate agenda this year. “Congress is going to take that up,” he told the paper. “Let them have that debate.”
SENATE ROLLS OUT ETHICS PACKAGE
As promised, the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee on Friday released a copy of its proposed ethics bill for the upcoming session.
Following hearings earlier this week, the panel unveiled SPB 7006, which addresses issues including making financial disclosures available online and giving the Commission on Ethics more authority to initiate investigations and collect fines. The bill would require state officers to abstain from voting on matters that benefit them directly while placing greater restrictions on public employment while in office, lobbying, and expenditures of Political Committees and Committees of Continuous Existence.
The panel also filed SPB 7008, which revises laws relating to public records to accommodate new provisions. The bills will be up for discussion at the panel’s meeting Tuesday.
>>>Not less than five Republicans have said to me, ‘Why don’t they just label this bill the anti-Dean Cannon bill?’
SUN SENTINEL EDITORIAL – “LIFT $500 LIMIT ON DONATIONS”
“Efforts to restrict campaign donations haven’t worked. So let’s follow the lead of four other states and remove the lid, ensure rapid disclosure and put the responsibility back on the candidates to run transparent campaigns for the public good.”
TIMES EDITORIAL – “FIX CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS WITH FINESSE“
Florida’s campaign finance laws are broken. Unlimited special interest money gushes through hard-to-trace third-party committees. Political parties are increasingly irrelevant. And individual candidate fundraising — with outdated contribution limits — is often an afterthought. The result is voters cannot effectively trace the source of big money influencing elections, and a state Legislature beholden to special interests instead of Floridians. For the first time in more than a decade, legislative leaders are considering serious reforms. Their challenge will be to ensure that in fixing some problems they don’t create new ones.
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4TH FLOOR FILES
The third installment of the “4th Floor Files” features Jack Cory of Public Affairs Consultants. His clients include Altria Client Services, Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Florida Greyhound Association and South Florida Agriculture Association. Here’s the file on Cory.
DOR GROUP TO PROPOSE COMMUNICATIONS TAX REPEAL via James Call of the Florida Current
A Department of Revenue working group will propose replacing the Communications Services Tax with an increase in the state sales tax. The group has held seven meetings since June and will submit a report to the governor and Legislature on Feb. 1.
A draft of the report recommends repeal of the CST, a combination of local and state levies on land-line telephone, cable, satellite and other communication services. The state portion of the CST is 6.65 percent with a local option of up to 7.12 percent. The state rate on satellite service is 10.8 percent.
… The plan is to make up the money lost by repealing the CST by placing all communications services under the sales tax and increasing the state sales tax from the current rate of 6 percent to 6.34 percent.
HEADLINE OF THE DAY – “LATE NIGHT MASSEUSES AREN’T RUBBED WRONG WAY BY STATE BILL” via Brett Clarkson of the Sun Sentinel
SPOTTED: Senator Jeff Brandes overseeing the coin toss at the East West Shrine Game
***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. With more than 45 years of combined legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience, Corcoran & Johnston’s ability to navigate through the processes and politics of government and deliver for their clients is unmatched.***
WITH WEST FORGOING REMATCH, GOP HAS NO CLEAR EARLY FAVORITE TO CHALLENGE MURPHY IN 2014 by George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
State Sen. Joe Negron is the first name mentioned by many Republicans in Florida and Washington as a potential candidate for Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18. But Negron, angling to become Senate president in 2016, reaffirmed last week that he’s focused on Tallahassee and not a congressional bid.
Longtime state Rep. Gayle Harrell who narrowly lost a 2008 GOP congressional primary to eventual U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, voiced cautious interest in the District 18 race.
Some Republicans point to up-and-coming St. Lucie County Commissioner Tod Mowery as a potential congressional candidate, noting his ability to win as a Republican in a Democrat-dominated county that is home to 37 percent of District 18 voters.
JOSE FELIX DIAZ LOOKING TO CHALLENGE JOE GARCIA?
The rumor rumbling from South Florida to Tallahassee is that Republican State Representative Jose Felix Diaz, fresh off his contentious win over fellow GOP’er Ana Logan, is eyeing a challenge to Democrat Joe Garcia for the congressional seat Garcia just won from David Rivera. Garcia represents Florida’s 26th Congressional District, a heavily Hispanic seat that is the most Democratic of the three South Florida Cuban-American districts.
A political consultant who has worked for JFD says he’s already made up his mind to run. A legislative colleague of Diaz’ says he’s told them he intends to run.
“I am sure there are plenty of qualified people that are looking at this seat considering the significance of this position and it’s ability to impact the very real challenges facing our country,” Diaz tells me. “It is an honor being mentioned on a short list of potential candidates. I have indeed been approached by many leaders and constituents in my community. I am humbled by their encouragement and support. It is something that I am seriously considering.”
LINEUP of 2014 HOUSE CANDIDATES CONTINUES TO GROW
Another 10 House incumbents have filed paperwork during the past week to seek re-election in 2014, joining dozens of others who are already gearing up for the next campaign cycle, according to the state Division of Elections website.
The most-recent filers are Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda in District 9; Rep. Janet Adkins in District 11; Rep. Clovis Watson in District 20; Rep. Dave Hood in District 25; Rep. John Wood in District 41; Rep. Carl Zimmermann in District 65; Rep. Kathleen Peters in District 69; Rep. Jim Boyd in District 71; Rep. Matt Hudson in District 80; and Rep. Jeanette Nunez in District 119.
YOU’RE INVITED to a fundraiser benefiting Reps. Jeanette Nunez and Dana Young on Wednesday, January 23. The event will be held at the offices of Adams St. Advocates and will begin at 5:00 p.m. The impressive host committee includes Jan Gorrie, Wendy Hansen, Claudia Davant, Lindy Kennedy, Carole Duncanson, Cynthia Henderson, Nancy Stewart, Cari Roth, Lori Killinger, Candice Ericks, Tanya Jackson, Michelle McKay, Monica Rodriguez, Kathy Holzer, Erica Chianti, Francie Plendl, Sandy Mortham, Amy Young, and Toni Large.
YOU’RE INVITED to a fundraising reception for Mike La Rosa, hosted by Speaker Will Weatherford, Chairman Steve Crisafulli and Richard Corcoran. The event will take place Wednesday, February 6, from 4:30 – 6:00 pm, at the Governors Club Library Room, 202 South Adams Street, Tallahassee.
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BLOG POST OF THE DAY – COUNTY BREAKDOWN IN FDP CHAIR RACE: SHOULD WEIGHTED VOTE GO? by Kartik Krishnaiyer of the Political Hurricane
“This weighted vote has made the current chair’s race close. Were the rules that govern the RPOF Chair elections in place, Allison Tant would have already wrapped a victory. It is worth noting that the geographic variation of recent Republican Party Chairs has been far greater than among the Democrats at the same time, with the RPOF having been led in the previous ten years by chairs from just about every corner of the state, SE Florida excluded. The Democrats who have become overly dependent on urban areas for votes have not had a Chairman from a major urbanized area since Bob Poe left the job on January 2003, a statistic not lost on many from those areas.”
***Representatives from Florida’s aerospace industry will visit Tallahassee on March 6, 2013, to participate in Florida Space Day and share with legislators the opportunities the industry brings to Florida and the nation’s space program. During Space Day, industry leaders and other aerospace supporters will meet with House and Senate members, as well as the lieutenant governor, to discuss growing areas of the state’s $8 billion space industry, and determine the best strategies for leveraging these markets for Florida’s benefit in the years ahead.***
CONGRATULATIONS to The Spencerian blog, authored by Ben Kirby, on its eighth anniversary.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to uber lobbyist Jon Costello (he’s got a Jon Hamm thing going on, doesn’t he?)
SPOTTED taking in the Gasparilla children’s parade at the immaculate home of Nancy and Robert Watkins were neighbors Representative Dana Young and husband Matt. Dropping by were Beverly and Al Austin, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (off to the Inauguration today), Speaker Will Weatherford and wife Courtney, fundraiser Melissa Dempsey and political consultant Anthony Pedicini.