Sunburn for 7/29 – 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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More than two years after lawmakers approved the idea, the gradual shift to a statewide Medicaid managed-care system will start to take effect Thursday. And with the school year fast approaching, the 2013 version of a “sales-tax holiday” for shoppers will begin Friday.

The News Service of Florida offers a comprehensive preview of the week here.

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President Obama will make a rare trip to Capitol Hill to meet with House and Senate Democrats on Wednesday … Topics for discussion are expected to include the economy and job growth … Obama administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, have … made extensive efforts to assuage Hill Democrats over the implementation of Obamacare.


President Obama and House Republicans are speeding toward another fight over spending this fall. Congress votes annually to fund about one-third of domestic and defense spending, a portion of the budget already shrinking due to sequestration. Barring repeal of the Budget Control Act, additional cuts will take effect for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The gap between the president and House Republicans remains too wide for compromise, though, despite recent estimates that waiving the sequester cuts would result in 900,000 more jobs by September 2014. More than 60 Republicans are asking House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to defund the Affordable Care Act when Congress votes to fund the government in September. 


Obama told the New York Times that “he was worried that years of widening income inequality and the lingering effects of the financial crisis had frayed the country’s social fabric and undermined Americans’ belief in opportunity.”

Upward mobility “was part and parcel of who we were as Americans. And that’s what’s been eroding over the last 20, 30 years, well before the financial crisis.”

He added: “If we don’t do anything, then growth will be slower than it should be. Unemployment will not go down as fast as it should. Income inequality will continue to rise,” he said. “That’s not a future that we should accept.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “There’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency.” — President Barack Obama.

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ALAN GRAYSON TO HOLD TOWN HALL MEETING TONIGHT via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel

Grayson will hold a town hall meeting tonight for his Congressional District 9 constituents to discuss workers rights, at the Barry University School of Law.

Grayson will be including former Walmart Workers Vanessa Ferreira and Lisa Lopez, featured in a recent Orlando Sentinel story, as well as political economics professor Jeannette Wicks-Lim of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The meeting is set to run from 6-8 p.m. Topics are to include the minimum wage, employees’ right in the workplace and paid vacation leave for working families.

GRAYSON, SECURE IN HIS SEAT, LOOKS TO ELECT OTHERS via Mark Matthews of the Orlando Sentinel

Since his comeback in a newly drawn district last year, Grayson is moving to expand his influence within the Democratic Party by using his fundraising prowess — along with a string of legislative efforts — to push his party to the left.

“For an elected official to spend so much time raising money for others, it is usually indicative of one of two scenarios,” explained Screven Watson, a Democratic strategist.

“Either the elected official has an incredibly safe seat for themselves … which allows them to spend more time raising for others than for themselves. Or they are prolific fundraisers who can spend time doing both. In this instance, both of these scenarios probably apply to Alan Grayson,” he said.

… He estimated that roughly 200,000 supporters receive his fundraising emails, which Grayson said he writes himself with the same gusto — and much of the snark — that thrust him on the national stage in 2009, when he said the Republican health-care plan was for sick patients to “die quickly.”

“Let’s show the special interests and the greedheads what People Power is all about,” reads a typical Grayson fundraising missive.

In recent weeks, Grayson has turned his attention toward supporting candidates he dubs “True Blue Democrats.” He defined them as politicians who support universal health care and “progressive taxation” and oppose cuts to Social Security or Medicare.

The last point in particular builds on his efforts earlier this year to assemble a coalition of House lawmakers who would oppose any budget deal that includes cuts to these programs. But so far, only about 40 of the 435 House members have signed on — so Grayson is looking to add new supporters.

TED YOHO ENTANGLED IN DISPUTE OVER FARM BILL via Bill Thompson of the Gainesville Sun

The farm bill making its way through Congress includes a significant change — away from direct payments and toward crop insurance — in the federal safety net that protects farmers.

But this potential policy change has put Yoho, the newly elected Republican congressman for this region, in a delicate political position.

He supports insurance over subsidies, saying that approach is more consistent with his conservative stance on assistance and economic issues. But conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and Taxpayers for Common Sense are bitterly opposed, saying the feds are taking on far too much expense with crop insurance.

Meanwhile, Yoho’s district — which includes much of Marion and Alachua counties — is a significant winner under the current system. In fact, his district was tops in Florida last year in the amount of government subsidies paid to farmers.

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Floridians had access to more information about Gov. Rick Scott’s substantial wealth when he was a candidate three years ago than they do now.

During his first-ever run for public office, the former hospital chain executive and multi-millionaire released three years of tax returns and a lengthy list of all his business holdings. He reported a net worth of $218 million right before he mounted his campaign, spent $70 million of his own money to get elected and then reported a net worth of $103 million as he took office.

The filing he turned in last month shows that his net worth last Dec. 31 was nearly $83.8 million, a drop of nearly 19 percent since 2011, and almost all of it stored in a blind trust with assets shielded from public view.

It’s not clear whether the assets have simply lost value or were transferred to his wife Ann. Florida law does not require elected officials to report their spouse’s financial status as many other states do.

… His latest financial disclosure has just 14 lines of information. It showed a beachfront home in Naples worth $9.2 million and the trust account worth $72.8 million, with no specifics as to its investment.

… Scott also doesn’t own the plane that he uses. It’s owned by a company controlled by a company that lists Ann Scott as its only officer. Scott administration officials last year also said it was Ann Scott who in 2011 purchased a family vacation home in Montana. None of these assets is included in Rick Scott’s reports.

“The governor is going to comply with Florida law and Florida law has a long tradition of recognizing that husbands and wives can have separate lives,” said Pete Antonacci, Scott’s general counsel.

Responding to Associated Press questions, Antonacci said that the Governor will give state ethics officials a list this week of assets that were placed in the blind trust.

Scott’s annual financial disclosures also don’t include anything about the assets owned by his wife of 41 years, who contributed nearly $13 million out of her trust account to help her husband get elected. Ann Scott was running an interior design company when her husband was elected, but tax returns show it wasn’t making any money.

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FEW STOOD AGAINST ‘STAND’ via Michael Van Sickler and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

(W)hile the “Gunshine State” finds itself in the crosshairs of world public opinion, the lawmakers who approved “stand your ground” in 2005 have received little, if any, electoral blowback.

… Current state lawmakers who voted for “stand your ground” outnumber those who opposed it by a 4-1 margin.

Republicans who approved it are unapologetic. Not one would repeal it now.

… Of the 133 lawmakers who voted for the legislation, 48 hold elected office today. A state representative from Miami became U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Eight others went on to Congress, where five still serve. State Sen. Jeff Atwater is Florida’s chief financial officer. State Reps. Jeff Kottkamp and Jennifer Carroll ascended to lieutenant governor. Of the 94 representatives who approved it in the Florida House, 16 graduated to the state Senate.


Capitol Police turned away a former senator — and now Democratic candidate for Governor — when she tried to enter the building this weekend.

That’s the latest news nugget in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s daily email to media with updates on the ongoing Capitol sit-in.

Nan Rich, who served in the Florida Senate from 2004 to 2012, was denied entry on Saturday because “the public is not allowed to enter the Capitol until it opens for business on Monday at 8 a.m.” 

Since the only thing going on in the Capitol on weekends these days is the sit-in, it would be fair to guess Rich was trying to speak with protesters.


Capitol Police on Saturday refused to allow deliveries of food and bottled water to the 60 young protesters camped inside the building, the group’s leader said.

Capitol employees were allowed to bring hot meals to the protesters last weekend, said Phillip Agnew, whose Dream Defenders have spent the past 12 days in front of Gov. Scott’s office.

But when a staff member showed up around 2 p.m. Saturday with cold cuts and bread, the police refused the delivery, Agnew said.

The group has enough packaged bagels and bananas to last through Saturday night, Agnew said. But they expected to run out of food by Sunday morning. Bottled water was also in short supply.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy,” Agnew said. “But if we don’t get some food soon, we are going to have a lot of really hungry people.” 

FDLE GETS BARRAGE OF CALLS AFTER FOOD DENIED via Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was inundated with hundreds of phone calls Saturday after a group of protesters outside Gov. Rick Scott’s office tweeted that Capitol Police were denying them food and water and urged people to call the agency in protest.

The FDLE denied the allegations and asked the media not to re-publish the phone numbers put out by the protest group Dream Defenders. FDLE officials said some of those phone numbers are used by law enforcement agencies throughout the state to request Amber Alerts and crime scene or investigative help.

FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger disagreed with Agnew’s account, saying Capitol employees were still allowed to bring food to the protesters this weekend.

“We haven’t changed anything,” Plessinger said. “The rules remain the same.” 

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(S)tate GOP leaders look increasingly anxious about grass roots conservative backlash against the Common Core state standards long championed by Bush and adopted by Florida and 44 other states. Even (Jeb) Bush’s old protegee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, is bashing Common Core.

Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford earlier this month called on the state to pull out of the group designing the standardized tests aligned with Common Core. Their announcement fueled speculation they may be backing away from Common Core, though they insist it’s only the testing they’re questioning, not the standards themselves.

Don’t underestimate the threat conservative opposition poses to the new accountability standards in Florida (predictable liberal opposition doesn’t bother Republicans leaders especially).

… “Unfortunately, there has been a tremendous amount of misinformation about the movement to raise academic standards, especially among our fellow conservatives,” wrote John Thrasher, Carole Jean Jordan, Al Cardenas, Tom Slade and Van Poole. 

“… There are good conservatives on both sides of this issue. Questioning the integrity of anyone involved on either side of this debate does not do our Party or this issue any favors,” they wrote. “We implore our fellow Republicans to judge the Common Core State Standards by what they are: academic standards, not curriculum and not a national mandate.”

STATE LAW HINDERS ABORTION CURBS via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Because Florida’s constitution spells out a specific right to privacy, abortion restrictions such as those recently passed in Texas and North Dakota are unlikely to take hold here, according to reproductive-law experts.

That’s not to say abortion opponents won’t keep trying. This year, Florida enacted a related law that requires medical care for newborns that survive botched abortions.

Still, the anti-abortion movement has an uphill battle, says Mary Ziegler, a Florida State University law professor who studies reproductive-health issues.

Florida’s constitution says that “every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life.”

The Florida Supreme Court has since ruled that the state Constitution “embraces more privacy interests, and extends more protection to the individual in those interests, than does the federal Constitution,” including abortion rights.

“So, in addition to some political barriers, you also have a pretty big legal barrier,” Ziegler says.

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Chris Sprowls’ campaign for House District 65 will kickoff on Thursday, September 12, with a fundraiser hosted by Speaker Will Weatherford;  Senators Jack Latvala, Mike Fasano, Jeff Brandes, and John Legg; Representatives Richard Corcoran, James Grant, Kathleen Peters, Larry Ahern and Ed Hooper; Commissioner Susan Latvala; and Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.  Join them at 6:00 p.m. at the Riverside Grille House Veranda in Tarpon Springs.


Rep. Dana Young invites you to her reelection campaign kickoff on Tuesday, September 17. Join her and her team from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Tampa Yacht and Country Club. 

TWEET, TWEET: @davetrotter1973: In the six months Allison Tant has been chair, the FDP has recruited only 2 “possible” quality candidates for any office! 

***Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 Central Florida Political Leadership Institute. National political and public policy experts will lead the two and a half day program being held at the Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park, October 24-26, 2013. If you live within the 7-county central Florida region and interested in learning more about what it takes to run an issues-based campaign for local, state or federal office, please apply for the 25-member class by August 9. Contact PLI Director Christina Johnson for more information.***


Slater Bayliss, no longer lobbying for The Villages.

Michael Cantens, no longer lobbying for the Department of Health.

Michael Garner, no longer lobbying for Florida Association of Health Plans.


Melissa Akeson, William Rubin, Heather Turnbull, The Rubin Group: Gulf Coast Marine Life Center

Don DeLoach, Danny Jordan, Jeanette Yaegar, One Eighty Consulting: Cambria Solutions 

Andrew Dolkhart: Lennar Homes

Jon Johnson, Johnson & Blanton: Innovative Senior Living of Florida

Russell Roberts: Florida East Coast Industries

Jeremy Susac: BioNitrogen Corporation

Ben Wilcox: The Children’s Campaign

SPOTTED (last week, forgot to mention): Rep. Richard Corcoran dining with The Everglades Foundation’s Erik Eikenberg and powerhouse lobbyist Nick Iarossi at Tampa’s swank Ocean Prime resto.

SPOTTED at this last weekend’s Jeb! alumni reunion at Disney World: David Rancourt, Grahm Fountain, Ann Herberger, Steve Seibert, Kathleen Shanahan, Karen Unger, Brian Yablonski. 

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FSU’s “Working Political Program” will be hosting an event for Governor Askew commemorating his final year of teaching at FSU. Students’ in the MAAPP will be honoring Gov. Askew for encouraging the importance of higher education, and his many years of service to Florida Government. Senate Chamber, Historic Capitol Building (Old Capitol). 11:00 a.m.


Retired Col. George “Bud” Day, a Medal of Honor recipient who spent 5½ years as a POW in Vietnam and was Arizona Sen. John McCain’s cellmate, has died at the age of 88, his widow said Sunday.

Day, one of the nation’s most highly decorated servicemen since Gen. Douglas MacArthur and later a tireless advocate for veterans’ rights, died Saturday surrounded by family at his home in Shalimar, after a long illness,Doris Day said.

“He would have died in my arms if I could have picked him up,” she said.

Day received the Medal of Honor for escaping his captors for 10 days after the aircraft he was piloting was shot down over North Vietnam. In all, he earned more than 70 medals during service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

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COUNTING DOWN: It’s less than a week to to Amy Peloquin and Brendan Farrington’s wedding.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Bill Cotterell and, today to devoted reader Debbie Ressler.

IN REMEMBRANCE: Peter J. Schorsch, who would have been 72 years-old today. There isn’t a day that goes by without me missing my beloved father and friend. 

ALSO IN MEMORIAM: Alex Sink and her children will be in Washington D.c., on Monday to inter the ashes of her late husband, Bill McBride, at Arlington National Cemetery in a private ceremony.

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.