A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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JEB LAUGHS OFF MOM’S ‘ENOUGH BUSHES’ REMARK via the Associated Press
Bush said Wednesday he’s undecided about running for president but didn’t appear to agree with his mother that enough members of their family have occupied the White House.
Bush, widely considered among the leading potential contenders for the Republican nomination in 2016, took a pass on declaring his intentions when asked about the race after a speech to business and government leaders in northern Michigan.
“My thinking is not to think about it for a year,” he said. “Life teaches you that you need to make decisions in the right time – not too early, not too late. … I’ll check in maybe a year from now, 15 months from now, something like that.”
HOUSE PANEL TO HEAR FROM TEA-PARTY GROUPS IN IRS INQUIRY
Conservative groups singled out by the IRS for special scrutiny after applying for tax-exempt status will testify June 4 at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee, The Hill reports. Committee Chairman Dave Camp, said in a statement, “While we now know that the IRS began targeting individuals based on their personal beliefs three years ago, we still need to know who began this targeting and why, and we need to understand how individuals were affected by the IRS’s abuse.”
REPUBLICANS ACCUSE HOLDER OF CONTRADICTIONS IN TESIMONY
Top House Judiciary Committee Republicans on Wednesday demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder explain what they say is a contradiction in his sworn testimony at a May 15 hearing and subsequent revelations about his department’s obtaining a search warrant in 2010 for e-mails of a Fox News reporter, National Journal’s Billy House reports.
>>>Holder will hold an off-the-record meeting this week with D.C. bureau chiefs to discuss changes to guidelines for media subpoenas, Politico reports.
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5 QUESTIONS WITH CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE GWEN GRAHAM here, including:
Q. Did the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruit you to run for this race?
G. I was not recruited by the DCCC. I decided to run and I reached out to the DCCC and let them know that I was going to run. And through the strength of the campaign that we put together, and the team that we have and our plan that we have in place that we’re following everyday, I’ve been very honored to gain their support over time.
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DEMOCRATS SAY NAN RICH CAN’T SPEAK AT JEFFERSON-JACKSON DINNER via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel
Democrats are facing a rebellion among party activists over the state party chairwoman’s decision to deny gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich of Weston a speaking spot at the big Democratic fundraising gala next month in Hollywood.
Rich asked for a chance to address the dinner and state Democratic Chairwoman Allison Tant said no.
That isn’t sitting well with party activists around the state, especially in Rich’s home base of Broward County, which is home to the biggest pool of registered Democrats in the state.
“Nan Rich should be allowed to speak,” said Maggie Davidson, the state Democratic Party committeewoman representing Broward County. “With an election coming up next year that’s really, really important [the dinner is] a time to highlight gubernatorial candidates. And she’s a high-level Democrat and she’s running for governor and she should be highlighted.”
TWEET, TWEET: @lennycurry: Question for @AllisonTant: Are big donors really more important than 5 min for @SenatorNanRich?
DOES THE FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOT LIKE FATHERS?
The Florida Democratic Party faces another problem surrounding its upcoming Jefferson-Jackson fundraising gala next month in Hollywood.
The issue at hand is one of scheduling. Specifically, who was the genius who decided to schedule the annual gathering of donors and party activists from around the state on the same weekend as Father’s Day?
That’s right, the JJ Dinner at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa will take place the night before Father’s Day, forcing those not from South Florida and who have to travel for hours to the event, whether to attend the festivities and spend much of Sunday on the road back to our homes or skip the proceedings entirely.
Of course, there is a third choice, that being to bring your children to the JJ weekend, but unless you are Scott and Susannah Randolph, the prospect of spending this holiday with a resort full of donkeys may not be entirely welcomed.
The ill-timed scheduling of the state party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner comes a month after the Hillsborough and Pinellas Democratic Parties held their Kennedy-King annual event on the same weekend as Mother’s Day.
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COURT RULES SOME STATE WORKERS CAN BE TESTED via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Gov. Scott’s state employee drug testing program went too far, and so did the lower court that found it unconstitutional.
It created a rare situation when both sides of a court dispute praised the decision.
The 11th Circuit Court sent the case back to the U.S. District Court. It said Scott doesn’t have the right to order random drug testing for most of the 85,000 employees that would be covered under his 2011 executive order, but many of them could be tested without violating their constitutional rights.
… Scott said he applauded the court’s decision to overturn the lower court’s ruling that invalidated the program.
“Many Floridians are required to take drug tests in their workplace and it is only right for state workers paid with taxpayer funds to be required to do the same,” Scott said in a statement issued by his office. “We will go forward in arguing this case in both the appellate and trial courts in order to ensure that taxpayer funds are safeguarded from misuse by ensuring our state workforce is drug free.”
PROPERTY INSURANCE, MED MAL BILLS GO TO SCOTT via the News Service of Florida
Legislative leaders Tuesday sent more than four dozen bills to Gov. Rick Scott, including high-profile measures to try to shrink the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. (SB 1770) and to tighten requirements for expert witnesses in medical-malpractice cases (SB 1792). Scott will have until June 12 to decide whether to sign or veto the 49 bills, which the House and Senate passed during the legislative session that ended May 3. The bills also include a measure (SB 1852) to divvy up money from a national mortgage settlement; a measure (HB 49) that would ban the sale of certain pipes and other devices commonly used to smoke marijuana; and a measure (HB 1129) aimed at protecting infants born alive during attempted abortions.
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AFTER YEARS OF LEGISLATIVE FIGHTS OVER FERTILIZER RULES, SIDES CAN’T AGREE ON WAY FORWARD via Bruce Ritchie of The Florida Current
Disputes over local government fertilizer regulations have marked several recent legislative sessions. And there doesn’t seem to be a clear resolution as the state updates its fertilizer labeling rules. After battling yet another year over legislation that would restrict local fertilizer ordinances, the opposite sides in the issue remain in sharp disagreement over how to proceed.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services held a workshop to consider changes in labeling requirements for urban turf fertilizers. A department official said urban fertilizer rules need updating to keep up with recent research.
Sierra Club Florida representative Cris Costello said she’s concerned that the rule change could become a “backdoor attempt” to ban local fertilizer ordinances, similar to attempts in the past seven legislative sessions. Such language was included on HB 999 but it was stripped in the Senate before the bill passed and was sent to the governor.
Jim Spratt, director of government affairs for the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association, said the fight is no longer about the issue but rather over principles involving home rule and environmentalists versus industry.
BUDGET INCLUDES LEGAL HELP FOR FOSTER CHILDREN IN NURSING HOMES via Margie Menzel of The News Service of Florida
Florida lawmakers set aside more than $300,000 in the new state budget to provide legal help to foster children who have complex medical needs and are in nursing homes. The money will pay for what are known as “attorneys ad litem” to represent the foster children.
Christina Spudeas, executive director of the advocacy group Florida’s Children First, spearheaded the drive to win the allocation after an investigation and report last year by the U.S. Department of Justice alleged the state had improperly placed children in nursing homes, rather than pay for services that would allow them to stay in their homes and communities. The state Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the nursing homes, has disputed the Department of Justice findings.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires states to care for people with disabilities in the least restrictive settings — such as in family homes and communities.
Alan Abramowitz, executive director of Florida Guardian ad Litem, said part of the $323,000 for attorneys ad litem may also cover training for more attorneys and Guardian ad Litem staff in disability law. According to the state Department of Children and Families, the number of foster children in nursing homes is down to 15, half the number there last fall.
The number of all children with complex medical needs in nursing homes has dropped from 221 in September 2012 to 195 in February to 191 as of May 9, the Agency for Health Care Administration says.
REP. SOTO: HAND OVER DEP RECORDS ON ATTORNEY FIRINGS
Sen. Darren Soto is asking the Department of Environmental Protection to turn over public records related to the departure of four agency lawyers. The Florida Current reported last week that two attorneys were fired and two more resigned in personnel moves that have raised the suspicions of environmentalists, though DEP officials say there was nothing improper about the decisions.
“The fact that these attorneys were in some area of regulatory compliance and that all were abruptly removed without much explanation begs a deeper inquiry,” Soto said in a press release announcing his request. Soto asked the department to turn over personnel files, lists of cases the attorneys were working on and correspondence among DEP officials about the four attorneys dating back to April 3.
>>> The Florida Public Service Commission will hold a public hearing about a proposal by Tampa Electric Co. to increase base electric rates. The hearing is part of a months-long review process of the proposal.
>>>The Florida Sterling Council will hold a forum about preparing students for manufacturing and other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related jobs. Speakers are expected to include officials from numerous businesses, schools and colleges.
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BRYAN NELSON BACKS BOB CORTES TO TAKE ON KATHY CASTOR DENTEL via Sunshine State News
The Republican leadership in Tallahassee continues to rally behind Bob Cortes to challenge Rep. Karen Castor Dentel. On Wednesday, Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, endorsed Cortes over Scott Sturgill for the Republican nomination to take on Castor Dentel in 2014. Nelson joins a host of Republican legislators — including House Majority Leader Steve Precourt, R-Orlando — in backing Cortes.
“Bob Cortes is a leader we can count on,” said Nelson on Wednesday. “Bob is a successful small-business man, committed public servant, and a great father, and I know how committed he is to bringing more jobs and world-class schools to Central Florida.”
DENNIS BAXLEY ENDORSES BLAISE INGOGLIA FOR STATE HOUSE
Legislative legend Dennis Baxley, famous for Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws and his leadership role with Florida’s Christian Coalition, has thrown his support in for Blaise Ingoglia’s race to assume State House seat 35 which is being vacated by Rep. Rob Schenck due to term limits. Ingoglia, for his part, has not shied away from leadership or headlines either. He has made a name for himself with his “Government Gone Wild” seminars which portray wasteful spending, and served as vice-chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. He is a home builder by trade and a former tournament poker player. Not everyone is as sold as Baxley on Ingoglia’s candidacy. Bay Area political icon Rep. Mike Fasano warned that such a partisan resume can be a burden when running for office, particularly among independent or middle-of-the-road voters. Nevertheless, expect a spirited and principle-driven campaign.
STEVE PRECOURT RULES OUT 2014 RUN FOR ORANGE COUNTY MAYOR
The term-limited Precourt said by email that he’s no longer looking at it as an option next year.
“I’m not, we’ve got three in kids in college now and I need to focus on finishing the legislative run, and helping the kids [through] school,” Precourt wrote in an email.
From the start, the propsect that another Repubilcan would take on incumbent Mayor Teresa Jacobs always seemed unlikely.
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DELEGAL, AUBUCHON LEAVE PENNINGTON P.A. FOR HOLLAND & KNIGHT
Mark Delegal, a lobbyist for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Gulfstream Racing and at least a dozen insurance concerns, is leaving Pennington PA for Holland & Knight. Josh Aubuchon is joing Delegal in the move from Pennington to H&K.
“We are very excited to welcome Mark and Joshua to our state-wide team,” said former governor Bob Martinez, chair of the firm’s Florida government advocacy team. “Mark Delegal has done exceptional work for his insurance and healthcare clients and has a stellar reputation in the legal and lobbying community. His arrival at the firm, along with the very talented Joshua Aubuchon, will benefit all of our clients who seek effective advocacy in Tallahassee.”
Delegal has joined H&K as a partner, while Aubuchon has joined as an associate, both in the firm’s Tallahassee office.
Delegal serves as general counsel to the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida and is heavily involved in the Medicaid appropriations process for public hospitals and other health care entities statewide. In the area of insurance, Delegal has been active in all of the significant property, casualty and automobile insurance reforms in Florida over the last two decades. He is recognized as a top attorney in the area of insurance regulation by Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America, Florida Trend’s Legal Elite, and is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell.
Aubuchon represents clients in the area of government and legislative affairs and has specific experience in the areas of alcohol beverage law and real property and housing law. Aubuchon currently serves as the executive director and general counsel of the Florida Brewers Guild. Prior to joining Pennington, he served as legislative analyst for the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and was a law clerk for the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.
Delegal and Aubuchon are the latest arrivals to Holland & Knight’s bipartisan advocacy team, representing clients in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. That team includes Martinez; former U.S. Representative Jim Davis; former U.S. Representative Ron Klein; Kerry Feehery, former chief of staff to U.S. Senator George LeMieux; Karl Koch, former chief of staff to Congressman Jim Davis, and Kimberly Case, former legislative affairs director for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
HOSPITAL CHAIN CEO TO STEP DOWN IN JULY via the News Service of Florida
Gary Newsome, the president and chief executive officer of Naples-based Health Management Associates, which operates or is a partner in 23 Florida hospitals, announced Tuesday he will retire effective July 31. Newsome will take a position with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, serving as president of its Uruguay-Montevideo Mission in South America.
“My family and my faith have always been the most important parts of my life and it is a rare privilege to serve in Uruguay, a place that has remained in my heart since I served my first mission there more than 35 years ago,” Newsome said in a statement released by HMA.
The company operates hospitals in 15 states, with Florida its largest market. While many of its hospitals are in smaller or mid-sized communities, HMA earlier this year finalized a partnership with Bayfront Health System in St. Petersburg.
INTEL HIRES BRUENING
OMENS JOINS OUTREACH STRATEGIES
Alison Omens has joined the communications and public affairs firm Outreach Strategies as a vice president. Omens left her job at the AFL-CIO in February and spent some time abroad in Vietnam. She previously oversaw strategic communications and media strategy at the AFL-CIO. ‘It was pretty clear that this was a great fit for me – with their mission-driven approach, truly excellent team and focus on critical and fascinating issues – and I made the leap,’ she wrote in an email to colleagues.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Jack Skelding: Seminole Tribe of Florida
TWEET, TWEET: @steveschale: More from the glam life of a political operative: Enjoyed 3hrs today in @willweatherford district getting wheel on my 200k mile car fixed
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Kevin Cate’s better half, Ashley.