Sunburn for 3/18 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

***Sunburn is sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms.***


The authors of last year’s Republican Party post-2012 election “autopsy report” say they see progress implementing the recommendations of the report, including expanding the party’s appeal to minorities.

But they said change will be gradual, and couldn’t cite many tangible results so far.

“I think we’ve made substantial progress,” said one of the authors, veteran Florida GOP strategist Sally Bradshaw. “The report did not sit on a shelf.”

The Growth and Opportunity Project report intended to analyze the party’s failings in the 2012 election, providing recommendations of new strategies for the future.

Bradshaw cited improved digital capabilities in campaigns — a key focus of the report—as responsible for the win by Republican David Jolly in Pinellas County’s special congressional election.

Others cited increased GOP reaching out to minority communities, new Republican presidential primary rules intended to shorten long, drawn-out primary battles, and improved primary debates highlighting GOP candidates more favorably.

The report authors said implementing changes that result in more success for the party would take time.

Bradshaw said change within the party will be gradual and incremental — “a marathon, not a sprint” — and that without the report, “You would not have seen the level of discussion of these issues” that’s now occurring.


WINNING THE HIPSTER VOTE: A GOP ad shows that tortoiseshell glasses could be the key to winning over young voters. More here.

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John David White, most recently the Director of Government Affairs for healthcare giant WellCare of Florida, is newly elected U.S. Rep. David Jolly’s choice for Chief of Staff.

Monday, WellCare Vice President of Public Policy and State Government Affairs Elizabeth Goodman inadvertently let the cat out of the bag when she revealed White’s hiring in an internal email that was leaked to SaintPetersBlog.

“Today I learned that one of the folks that will report to that Senior Director (JohnDavid White) is leaving us to become the Chief of Staff for Florida’s newest Congressman, David Jolly,” writes Goodman. “We are so excited for JohnDavid but very sad for us.”

For its part, neither Jolly’s campaign, nor any of the communications consultants associated with Jolly, would confirm White’s hiring. A spokesperson for Jolly said the Congressman would be making announcements about personal decisions in the coming days.

However, in addition to being White’s boss, Goodman is also the wife of political consultant Adam Goodman, a media consultant to Jolly’s campaign. So it’s pretty safe to assume she is in the know.


House Majority PAC has hired Matt Thornton to be communications director. He replaces Andy Stone, who is departing the Democratic super PAC for Facebook.

“Matt has the right combination of experience and savvy to help House Majority PAC hold Republicans accountable and win House seats,” said executive director Alixandria Lapp. “Andy has been an invaluable asset to our team. I wish him the best and know that he has laid the groundwork for Matt to step in and excel.”

Thornton was most recently the senior communications adviser at American Bridge 21st Century. Prior to that, he served as the communications director for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Zack Space.

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Florida lost 2,600 jobs in January, led by workforce drops in retail, hotels, restaurants and health care.

The reversal came even as the state’s unemployment rate continued to fall, dropping from an upwardly adjusted 6.3 percent in December to 6.1 percent in January.

The unemployment rate and jobs numbers don’t always mesh, in part because they’re drawn from two different surveys. The jobless rate is taken from a household survey measuring people who say they either have a job or are actively looking for one. The jobs number comes from employers.

One sign of concern: Florida’s 16-and-up population grew by 170,000 since January 2013, but its labor force only grew by 29,000 over the same period. Retirees account for a significant part of the labor pool slack, but not all of it.

Unlike state data, metro area figures are less reliable as a gauge of economic health because they are not adjusted for seasonal hiring in industries like tourism and agriculture. As a result they tend to fluctuate more month to month. If statewide figures were not seasonally adjusted, they would have shown a drop of 108,400 jobs month over month.

Florida won’t have to wait long to see if the drop in jobs was a one-month anomaly or the start of a trend. February’s report is slated to come out March 28.


Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s unemployment rate continues to fall despite loss of 2600 jobs – state’s unemployment rate continued to fall, dropping from an upwardly adjusted 6.3 percent in December to 6.1 percent in January… Palm Beach Post, Florida sees jobs losses, but unemployment rate improvement in January – Once again, government job loss accounted for the poor showing, while the private sector showed a minuscule increase of 700 jobs… News Talk Florida, Florida Businesses: 500,000 Jobs In Just Three Years – Florida’s unemployment rate for January 2014 was down to 6.1 percent, the lowest unemployment rate in the state since June 2008… Miami Herald, Construction helps lead new job creation in South Florida – Monroe County led the state with the lowest unemployment rate, 3.8 percent, compared to 3.5 percent in December… Sarasota Herald-Tribune,  Southwest Florida unemployment climbs – unemployment rate in Southwest Florida climbed nearly a half-percentage point during January to 6.1 percent…Washington Post, Unemployment dips to post-recession lows in 30 states – Florida and South Carolina, the rate was down to 6.2 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, the lowest those states have seen since that July… Daytona Beach News-Journal, State unemployment rate down, local rates up – Volusia County’s unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent in January, up from 6.0 percent in December but still well below the 8.7 percent Volusia saw in January 2013… Miami Herald, Florida unemployment rate drops to 6.1 percent – Despite the overall rate dropping slightly by 0.2 percent, the overall number of jobs in the state dropped by 2,600.


Charlie Crist: “Rick Scott’s 1.7 million jobs promise is failing because he handed a billion dollars in corporate tax breaks to his buddies for almost no jobs, while cutting education and training. He is still desperately attempting to take credit for a recovery that’s more anemic than what the economy was already predicted to do on its own.”

Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Mark Wilson: “At the Florida Chamber, we know the best way to secure Florida’s future is one company at a time, one job at a time. Governor Scott’s efforts to bring more companies and more private-sector jobs to Florida are further proof that Florida is on the right track to becoming the number one job creator in the nation.”

Florida Democratic Party: “Today’s jobs report confirms what Floridians already know: Rick Scott has broken his promise to create new, good jobs. Instead of investing in Florida’s middle class, Rick Scott gave taxpayer handouts to the wealthiest special interests and cut millions from education and infrastructure.”


While federal shares of state budgets dropped a few points between 2010 and 2012, Florida’s share actually went up. Even while rejecting federal funds for trains, exchanges, and who knows what else.  Comparing fiscal year 2011 with its 10-year pre-recession average, Arizona saw the greatest increase (13 percent) in its share of federal dollars. The next largest increases were in Louisiana, New Mexico, Michigan, and Florida.

Florida’s spending as a share of personal income has fallen for each of the past four years, from about 7 percent in 2008 to just under 6 percent in 2011. In 2011, Arizona spent a smaller share of its own funds than any other year since 1961, and Florida’s state-sourced spending was at its lowest level since 1986.

On the downside, Florida is one of just seven states where debt is a larger liability than total unfunded retirement costs, which include pensions and retiree health care combined. But on the upside, Florida could last substantially more days running on state reserve funds than the national average. With $3.2 billion in reserve, Florida could run for 46.6 days — greater than the state average of 29.9 days. By comparison, Alaska could run for 794 days, while Illinois would be shut down in just 1.8 days, California in 3.3 days, and Arkansas in a mind-boggling zero.

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CRIST AND SCOTT IN DEAD HEAT IN NEW UNF POLL via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

A poll from the University of North Florida (UNF) shows former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination despite spending most of his political career as a Republican, beating Gov. Rick Scott by a hair.

The poll of registered voters has Crist with 34 percent with Scott right behind him with 33 percent. But 34 percent of voters are on the fence with 17 percent saying they would back someone else besides Scott and Crist and 17 percent still undecided.

The poll shows 45 percent of those surveyed approve of Scott while 39 percent disapprove. A UNF poll from October had 49 percent approving of Scott while 42 percent disapproved of him.

DOES SCOTT HUNT TURKEYS IN AN ELECTION YEAR? via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Scott is about to meet the dark side of a budget surplus.

With about $1.2 billion in surplus revenue, senators are showing no hesitation in stuffing hometown projects into next year’s budget, testing Scott’s penchant for vetoing pet spending (though not all).

The senate’s appropriations subcommittee on transportation, tourism and economic development released its proposed $11.7 billion budget Monday and it’s larded up like it was 2006 all over again.

Will Scott have the temerity in an election year to veto the projects? And which ones will make the cut?

Not so fast. First they have to be approved by the entire Senate and then the House, which has yet to release details on its budget.


The head of the Florida Democratic Party contends that the campaign of Gov. Scott is breaking the state’s campaign finance law.

Allison Tant on Monday filed a complaint against both Gov. Scott and his political committee Let’s Get to Work.

The complaint maintains that the campaign broke the law when the Scott campaign transferred $27 million from one type of campaign  account to another earlier this month.

If the governor’s campaign were found to have violated the law, it could be subject to a fine worth as much as $82.1 million or three times the amount of the contribution.

John French, the chairman of Let’s Get to Work, said last week the movement of the money was legal.

The complaint was filed with the Florida Elections Commission.

RPOF TIES CRIST TO OBAMACARE IN NEW AD via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

The Republican Party of Florida released an ad attacking Crist for defending President Barack Obama’s health-care law. Crist is the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November despite spending most of his political life as a Republican.

“Charlie Crist is the only candidate in America who is giving Obamacare the full embrace,” said Greg Blair, a spokesperson for the Scott campaign. “Obamacare has already cancelled health insurance for hundreds of thousands of Floridians and raided Medicare at the expense of 1.3 million Florida seniors. Now the president has finally admitted that many Americans will lose their doctors as a result. It’s appropriate that this ad is the first of its kind because there’s no bigger cheerleader for Obamacare than Charlie Crist.”


It might be nonpartisan and have “voters” in its name, but the League of Women Voters of Florida also increasingly tackles politically charged issues outside of elections.

Recently, the 75-year-old organization has advocated for Medicaid expansion, organized visits to Cuba and opposed private school voucher expansion.

It’s a progressive agenda at first blush, though league President Deirdre Macnab is quick to note that Medicaid expansion, for example, has the support of Sen. Rene Garcia, a conservative Hialeah Republican.

The group’s website says the organization’s work is “strictly nonpartisan; we neither support nor oppose candidates for office at any level of government.”

At the same time, the site says, “the League is wholeheartedly political and works to influence policy through advocacy.”

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Florida TaxWatch is facing the wrath of the Florida Medical Association over a recent report on the nurse practitioner debate, which concluded that taxpayers could save up to $339 million by allowing Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to provide care to the extent of their training.

The FMA released a statement saying the “self-described independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit” group released Diagnosing the Debate: Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice with five critical flaws in the dispute over allowing nurse practitioners to practice independently.

“This report, which is based largely on a government memorandum that is now four years old, is so fundamentally flawed and misleading, it requires immediate correction,” said FMA General Counsel Jeff Scott.

Scott added the report was “based on numerous assumptions that are demonstrably and irrefutably false,” and called on TaxWatch to reissue the document with corrections.

The flaws made by TaxWatch, according to the FMA include misleadingly reporting only the upper limit – and not the full range of values – from an “already flawed” Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability communication. TaxWatch also falsely assumes that non-physicians would perform 100 percent of primary care in Florida. OPPAGA’s analysis makes clear that the $339 million figure would require nurses to take over 100 percent of primary care.

“This is absurd and should be stricken from the report,” the statement says.


That’s the amount in additional general revenue Florida would have pulled down from the federal government if lawmakers passed a plan expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Democrats will be reminding Republicans – and voters – of that number again, and again, and again as the Legislature begins writing a budget.

During the press conference, the Democrats gave examples of what that money means for each portion of the budget, including health care, education, and criminal justice.

Last year, the Senate put forward a plan supported by Scott and Democrats that would have captured $51 billion in federal funds over 10-years. That plan, though, was rejected by the House.

Even if no action is taken by lawmakers to pull down additional federal funds, the issue is almost assuredly going to be used by Democrats on the campaign trail leading up to November’s midterm elections.

“This can and needs to happen, and if not it will be an issue for the next election,” said state Sen. Darren Soto.

DEFERRED COMP A SOP TO STATE WORKERS? via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat

So how does a 2 percent state-employee pay raise sound? (I know, I know, it depends on whether you count it in coins or paper money).

Suppose, though, the state decided to give you up to $1,200 a year more than you’re making now. Would you willing to forego an equal amount of your earnings, for an indeterminate period, if your employer chipped it into ye olde pension plan?

That’s the little noticed side bet in the current legislative discussion of overhauling the Florida Retirement System. The big pot, where all the main bets are, is the bill that would require newly hired FRS members to go into a “cash balance” retirement plan, rather than the traditional “defined benefit” monthly payout for life.

There’s the possibility of a special-risk “carve out,” allowing police and other first responders to remain in the current system, but that’s still up in the air. The one thing the GOP leadership is adamant about is that current employees and retirees won’t be affected by whatever they do.

A lot of the Republican leadership in the House and Senate would really like to phase it out, over a few decades, by putting all new hires in the existing “defined contribution” investment plan. That idea fell flat in the Senate last year.

Such a major change is bound to overshadow anything in its wake, so the deferred-compensation idea has not received a lot of attention. It’s not necessarily tied like a dinghy to the big bill, but it seems politically practical that they’ll sink or float together.

FLORIDA GRAPPLES WITH OWN FLOOD-INSURANCE FIX via Tonya Alanez of the South Florida SunSentinel

South Florida homeowners, facing steadily rising flood-insurance costs, may be in line for a break, courtesy of the state.

The state legislation is designed to create a competitive, private-insurance market in Florida. Homeowners also could save by choosing to cover as little as the remaining balance of their mortgages.

“This is really an original idea on how free-market insurance should be bought and sold in Florida,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes. “The two hallmarks of our bill that drive down rates are flexibility in coverage and competition in the marketplace.”

Costs will fall, Brandes said, because homeowners will be able to buy the amount of insurance they can afford, insurers will be taking on less risk and they’ll be competing to write flood policies.

Right now, property owners can buy flood insurance only from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Its National Flood Insurance Program, facing soaring debt, underwent a major reform in 2012 that was expected to lead to skyrocketing rate increases of as much as 900 percent for some homeowners.

More than 2 million homes in Florida are insured through the federal program. Of those, more than 372,000 are in Broward County, more than 162,000 in Palm Beach and more than 368,000 in Miami-Dade.


The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee won’t take up an elections bill, committee Chairman Jack Latvala said about two hours before the committee meeting was supposed to begin.

The committee approved a preliminary version of the measure last week, but by yanking SB 1660, Latvala avoided a possible clash with Democrats.

Latvala wants to limit early voting absentee ballot drop-off to supervisors’ offices and early voting locales, in part an attempt to rein in his own Pinellas County elections supervisor Deborah Clark. Clark butted heads with Gov. Rick Scott’s administration after Secretary of State Ken Detzner essentially ordered her and other supervisors to stop taking absentee ballots at locations other than the supervisors’ offices. Clark threatened to defy that order in a set of elections to choose a successor for the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young, and eventually Detzner backed down. Democrats are backing Clark and say it’s another example of the Scott administration trying to suppress the vote.

Latvala’s proposal also includes a sweetener for Democrats that would require the state to create an online voter registration system, something Sen. Jeff Clemens has pushed for a while.

By postponing a vote on the bill, Democrats will have to hold off on amendments addressing a flap over early voting locales in a Gainesville municipal election.

Scott’s administration refused to sign off on the use of Reitz Union at the University of Florida as an early-voting location for municipal elections. Democrats are trying to change the law to add university and college campuses to other government buildings allowed as early voting locations.


The opening of the third week of the legislative session brought its third wave of protests, this time featuring organizations attacking what speakers call a continuing attack on women’s health issues by the state’s Republican leaders.

Led by Planned Parenthood and Catholics for Choice, about 50 demonstrators crowded the Capitol Rotunda to condemn the Legislature’s failure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and also for advancing a half-dozen bills that they say undermine abortion rights in Florida.

Abortion bills, which include an outright ban and other measures aimed at raising the standard for fetal viability, have been around for a few years in Florida. Republican leaders have not made the legislation a priority, and it seems unlikely they will become a flashpoint this session.

The rally followed similar events organized by the NAACP of Florida and other groups the first two weeks of the session, which attacked Republican policies in general and specifically called for repeal of the state’s stand your ground self-defense law.

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On Tuesday, Senate committees will address human trafficking and sexual exploitation, restricting and nursing home lawsuits allowing undocumented immigrant children to pay in-state tuition. Other meetings will have PSC members face confirmation hearings and several appropriation committees will meet to discuss the upcoming 2014-2015 budget.

In the Senate’s morning session, a possible vote to ban e-cigarettes to minors.

For the House, the agenda includes additional hearing on keeping new trauma centers open across the state, limits on medical payouts in personal-injury or wrongful death lawsuits, boosting the state’s child-welfare system and keeping information shaded during college searches. Expanding the state’s de facto school voucher program also gets another look.


The Florida Farm Bureau Federation hosts the “Taste of Florida” Agricultural Reception” in the Capitol Courtyard at 5:30 p.m.

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PRESS RELEASE OF THE DAY – “Hamburgled: Orlando Workers To Protest Widespread Wage Theft At McDonald’s”

SHOT: Tuesday’s story as part of Miami Herald‘s Innocents Lost series – Innocents Lost: A mother, now in prison for manslaughter, talks of her regret

CHASER: Press release – “DCF Continues to Meet Challenges Facing Florida’s Children and Families”


Twenty-four hours after the Miami Herald published the first part of a series detailing the deaths of almost 500 children, the Florida Senate’s top child-welfare legislator said she would overhaul a bill designed to reform the Department of Children & Families.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel said the bill her committee drafted  — which passed unanimously through its first committee last week — would have to be rewritten in light of the “Innocents Lost” series, which chronicles the deaths of 477 children whose families had a history with DCF.

“When I started reading it, I had to put it down. It’s death in your face,” said the Hollywood Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs. “We will not sleep or rest until every vulnerable child is rescued from dysfunctional families and guardians. The stories are tear-jerkers. It’s unacceptable this has happened to Florida’s children.”

The number the children who died of abuse or neglect during the past six years increased dramatically as Florida child welfare administrators implemented an intensive family-preservation program that reduced the number of children in state care while slashing services and oversight for children who remained with troubled families.

DCF officials have maintained that family preservation does not trump safety, but conceded that communities may not have enough resources — yet — to assist families struggling with issues such as drug addiction, mental illness and domestic violence. In a statement released late Monday, a spokeswoman said initiatives are underway to improve the agency’s work.


For months, the top executives of Step up for Students, the nonprofit that runs Florida’s tax credit scholarship program, have been leaning on state lawmakers to expand the program.

But neither President Doug Tuthill nor Vice President for Advocacy and Outreach Glen Gilzean has registered as a lobbyist — despite a November opinion saying both would need to sign up with the state.

Tuthill told the Herald/Times he had received a separate verbal opinion saying registration was not necessary. He said he planned to file the paperwork this week anyway.

“I do not need to register, but I am going to, so we can talk about kids and policy again and not be distracted by the process,” he said.

The situation is particularly tricky for Gilzean, who filed his registration Friday, but withdrew it Monday.

Because Gilzean has been named to the board of Florida A&M University Board of Trustees, state law prohibits him from holding “any employment or contractual relationship as a legislative lobbyist requiring annual registration and reporting.”

He is scheduled to have a confirmation hearing before the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

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It’s been a futurist dream since at least 1939, when visitors to the General Motors pavilion at the New York World’s Fair marveled at a glimpse of the automotive future: a miniaturized model of a city prowled by 50,000 robot cars, controlled not by human drivers but centralized radio waves.

Several car companies say they’ll begin selling vehicles that can drive themselves — at least part of the time — by the end of this decade. And Florida will be right there at Ground Zero of the automotive revolution.

“We want to be the state that’s ready for innovation,” says Ananth Prasad, Florida’s transportation secretary. “We want to be the state where entrepreneurs and great minds can come to try things, rather than the state that just says no.”

One of just four states that permit experimental driverless vehicles to be driven on public roads, Florida has been the site of tests to see how their crash-averting sensors react to sudden and vicious thunderstorms. A section of Interstate 4 between Orlando and Tampa has already been equipped with transponders that feed the cars information about traffic and road conditions.

And when auto manufacturers and government officials from around the country held a summit last year to hammer out some of the legal and technological issues surrounding the vehicles, they chose Tampa to host it.

Google, the Internet company that has been testing luxuriant Priuses and Lexuses festooned with radar, lasers, and video cameras that allow the vehicles to be driven by its software rather than humans, says it expects its “autonomous driving system” to be on the road by 2018.

Several car manufacturers are only slightly less optimistic. Nissan, Mercedes and Renault have all announced plans to market cars in 2020 that can drive themselves at least part of the time.


 People love talking about how social media has changed things. But beyond being able to see your second cousin’s puppy and hearing your college roommate’s opinion on wheat gluten… has it? According to a growing body of academic research, political behavior is perhaps the most notable area of such transformation.

A recent controlled, scientific study explored the effects of social media in the 2012 presidential campaign from a third-person perspective. Ran Wei of the University of South Carolina and Guy Golan of Syracuse University used a sample of nearly 500 college students and surveyed participants’ beliefs on the influence of an array of ads on themselves and on others.

Wei and Golan found that “third-person perception” is a positive predictor of engagement in social media behavior. In other words, believing that a political ad on social media influences other people is a strong predictor that you yourself will promote the material on social media. These findings held even when controlling for voter demographic and political characteristics, as well as personal traits such as political attitudes and cynicism. They find that online political advertising is a primary channel for sparking attitudinal and behavioral responses in people.

“Political advertisements distributed via social networks may play a role in the democratization of political socialization and provide voters with greater efficacy,” they write. And this matters why? Because people who feel high in “efficacy” are the same ones who ultimately show up on Election Day… straight from the profile to the polls, and from the to the ballot.


For half a century, television ads have been the staple of political campaigns, the preferred, if costly, vehicle for communicating a candidate’s message to the voters. What happens when people stop watching live television?

That day hasn’t arrived yet and probably never will. But the outlines of the new world of television watching habits — and their implications for political campaigns — were highlighted in a survey released Thursday at a conference hosted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics and the Internet Association.

For the first time, fewer than half (48 percent) of all voters say that live TV is their primary source for watching video content. The second-most-preferred form for viewing is through recorded programming, but a majority said they skip 100 percent of the ads when they watch.

Live TV isn’t going away; it’s just not as dominant as it once was. Seventy percent of those surveyed said they had watched live television in the previous week. But fully 30 percent said that, other than live sporting events, they had watched no live television in the previous week. For younger voters, it’s closer to 40 percent.

Video on demand, streaming, smartphones and tablets have changed viewing habits. Viewing content on smartphones has about doubled to roughly the same percentage of users. Tablet viewing has jumped from 14 percent to 26 percent in less than two years.

The recent special congressional election in Florida’s 13th District, where Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink, is a classic example of one problem that confronts campaign strategists in House races. The Tampa media market sprawls over eight congressional districts, but the 13th District accounts for just 19 percent of the total population in that market.

A post-election analysis posted by the Smart Media Group said combined Democratic spending on television totaled about $5.5 million, while combined Republican spending totaled $4.4 million. About three-quarters of that was spent on broadcast networks, and most of the rest was spent on cable.

That means millions of dollars spent on local broadcast channels were essentially wasted because most of the people watching did not reside in the 13th District. Whether the money spent on cable was any more efficiently allocated isn’t clear.

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SCOOP — Bill Prescott is OUT as editor of the Florida Current, which is the online news service published by LobbyTools. “I can confirm that I’m no longer with the Current as of Friday,” Prescott wrote to me via text message.

Prescott did not offer a reason for his departure, but a source says Prescott had been ill with pneumonia and was dumped unceremoniously by John and/or Sarah Iarussi, the owners of LobbyTools. Prescott said he had no idea whether the two events are connected.

The Florida Current’s website has been updated to list James Call as its Managing Editor.

4TH FLOOR FILES: Today’s installment of 4th Floor Files talks to Chris Schoonover of Capital City Consulting. His clients include Citibank, eBay, and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. Here’s the file on Chris.


The former lawmaker has filed his first registration for Mack Strategies. He’ll lobby for American Task Force Argentina.

American Task Force Argentina backed one of Mack’s big legislative efforts in Congress: seeking repayment of billions owed to U.S. investors after Argentina’s 2001 debt default.

According to Kevin Bogardus for The Hill of the Hill, “Among the members of American Task Force Argentina is hedge fund Elliott Associates, which is managed by Elliott Management and founded by Paul Singer, a major conservative donor.”


Johnson & Blanton represents a wide range of clients in Florida government — and they put a high priority on looking the part.

With the philosophy that professional success starts with proper attire, it is not surprising that the subject of clothing style was touched upon in a recent post on the Team JB Business blog.

Here are some “fashion rules” to keep in mind when on business in the Capitol:

  • It may be silly that it needs mentioning, but even though this is the Sunshine State, beachwear is not suitable for the Capitol; something especially true for things like flip-flops or swimsuit cover-ups.
  • For men, the uniform de rigueur is jacket and tie. At times, it may be okay to lose the tie on Fridays; good judgment should dictates on that rule. It depends on what is happening on a particular Friday.
  • Another rule of thumb; unless you are Congresswoman Frederica Wilson or it happens to be Cattlemen’s Day — no hats.
  • Facial hair — especially of the “Duck Dynasty” variety — is frowned upon. (Of course, this is one for the men).
  • Shoe choice could also take up an entire page. Women envy men for the ability to wear comfortable shoes, especially during the last two weeks of Session. Some female colleagues can stand exceptionally high heels (swearing they are comfortable), so shoes are up to the wearer, with comfort the deciding factor.


Travis Blanton, Melanie Brown, Amy Christian, Jon Johnson, Johnson & Blanton: Community Health Centers Alliance; Florida Dental Association; H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute; WestCare Foundation, Inc.

Dean Cannon, Rheb Harbison, Richard Reeves, Alan Suskey, Capitol Insight: Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute

Angela Dempsey, William McKinley, PooleMcKinley: Colonial Management Group, LP

PERSONNEL NOTE: Friend o’ Sunburn Jennifer Hinson recently started a new job as the in-house director of Government Relations for WellCare in Florida.

PERSONNEL NOTE: Shaddrick Haston has been named chief executive officer of the Florida Assisted Living Association. Haston most recently has worked as manager of the Agency for Health Care Administration’s Assisted Living Unit.


In the aftermath of Congressman C.W. Bill Young’s death, Pinellas County has hired a lobbyist to give it the voice in Washington it lost last fall with the passage of Florida’s longest-serving congressman.

“Bill told us many times: you don’t need a lobbyist, you don’t need to spend money on that, you have me,” said Commissioner Susan Latvala, remembering the many times the congressman urged commissioners to “pick up the phone and call me.”

And for many years, they did. Since 2011, when the county ended its contract with Patton Boggs to save money while its tax revenue was falling, Pinellas hasn’t retained a D.C. lobbyist. But last month, county officials signed a new contract with Van Scoyoc Associates Inc., the lobbying firm where newly-elected Congressman David Jolly worked before leaving to start his own business.

As cozy as that relationship may look, Susan Latvala said the county is not trying to get closer to Jolly. It’s following another former Young employee, Harry Glenn, who was the late congressman’s chief of staff and recently has taken a job with Van Scoyoc.

***What do we do at Cherry Blow Dry Bar, you ask? Simple. We do two things and we do them extremely well. Our world-famous blow outs for any length hair any day, are always $35. We don’t charge more just because it’s Friday night (or Monday morning). Second, for those dreaming of that long luscious hair you see in magazines, our extensions are the perfect solution. We provide exactly what you’d expect: premium, long-lasting, and beautifully blended tape extensions that won’t damage your hair. Now open from 7am Monday through Thursday for you beauty conscious early birds. Cherry Blow Dry Bar is located in the Miracle Plaza; 1815 Thomasville Rd. Tallahassee. Call us at 850-765-6991 or email at We hope to see you soon! Love, your Cherry Best Friend!***

ACTUAL PRESS RELEASE: “UF researchers find a lobster’s sense of smell may hold the key to better electronic sensors”


On Context Florida: As Florida’s 2014 legislative session gets in full swing, the hucksters and con artists are in “double digit territory,’ writesDaniel Tilson. The Republican brand is working in full spin cycle after the David Jolly win in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, says Bob Sparks. A series of articles in the Tampa Bay Times expose Florida trauma centers for “outrageous unregulated” charges, as much as $33,000 for just the “call up” team, according to Marc Yacht. We all want our loved ones to get the best nursing home care, says Executive Director of Florida Health Care Association Emmett Reed and Florida has the chance to pass legislation this year that does just that.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the FEA’s Andy Ford and to our friend, political consultant extraordinaire Eric Johnson.

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.