A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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THE WEEK AHEAD
With Florida’s education system dealing with controversies about issues such as school grades and the “Common Core” standards, about three dozen political, business and education leaders will gather in Clearwater to talk about solutions. Meanwhile, another summit dealing with a high-profile issue — child protection — will be held up the highway in Orlando.
The News Service of Florida has a comprehensive preview here.
FIVE QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
1. Will the Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Florida continue their ‘War Over Women’ into a second week?
2. Is there any truth to the rumor that John Thrasher is at the top of the short-list to be Rick Scott’s LG?
3. How much more time will Alex Sink need before she makes a decision about running in 2014?
4. What bad news will be delivered this Friday before a three-day holiday weekend? What will be thrown out on ‘take out the garbage day’?
5. Will any of the Florida Republicans — Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Scott, AG Pam Bondi, Speaker Will Weatherford and U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, among others — attending next weekend’s “Defending the American Dream Summit” in Orlando make national waves?
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THE LAUNCH OF CONTEXT FLORIDA
As more than one friend has counseled, it’s crazy to be launching any sort of journalism endeavor in today’s marketplace.
Aren’t newspapers laying off editors and reporters? Aren’t media companies being bought up like Boardwalk and Park Place in a game of Monopoly?
Unfortunately, the answer to those two questions is “yes.” But that doesn’t mean entrepreneurs will stop attempting to build a better mousetrap. In fact, it’s in chaotic periods like this when “the next great thing” is often created.
As far as Florida’s political journalism arena is concerned, the next great thing will be Context Florida — a non-profit, online, statewide opinion network.
So what exactly is ContextFlorida? That’s a good question, especially if you were not familiar with Florida Voices. Is it a blog? Is it a news site? Is it a soap box? Well, yes to all three of those questions. That and more.
First of all, Context Florida is about what its title suggests: Florida. For a state as large and populous and as politically important as Florida, there are very few outlets for considered opinion about it. There are the newspapers, with their dwindling editorial pages. And there are some blogs and social networks and even a couple of think tanks. But, for the most part, there are very few places for the issues of the day to be debated.
My vision is to make Context Florida one of the arenas for these debates.
These debates will rage via a stable of regular columnists — many of them veteran journalists, such as Doug Clifton and Martin Dyckman and Florence Snyder, but also new media voices such as Steve Schale and Ben Kirby and Julie Delegal — who will offer at least four new op-eds per day on the site. In turn, these op-eds will be made available — at no cost — to the newspapers that have been forced to pare down their editorial staffs.
Context Florida also will welcome the contributions of outside interest groups and writers whose viewpoints are worth amplifying.
What you will read and see on Context Florida is what I describe as a bustling cacophony of smart ideas written by smart people for a smart audience.
I hope you will be part of it.
SO EXCITED FOR THIS FEEDBACK: “… congrats on the launch” via my role model, POLITICO’s Mike Allen.
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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross will tour Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa today at 10 a.m. Members of the media may join at the beginning of the tour in the lobby of the Stabile Research Building, and follow Rep. Ross as he talks to researchers. Interviews may be conducted upon the conclusion of the tour at 11:15 a.m.
GOP OPPONENT FAULTS STYLE OF PATRICK MURPHY’S PUBLIC APPEARANCES via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
Freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy packed more than two dozen district events into four days last week, including interactions with the public at chamber of commerce and Rotary Club breakfasts, a crowded hearing on Lake Okeechobee discharges and a visit to a retiree community.
But Republican congressional candidate Ellen Andel was irked that none of the events was a traditional, ask-anything town hall meeting. Murphy’s Republican predecessor, Allen West, hosted such meetings twice a month in front of big crowds during his stormy term.
SECOND CONGRESSIONAL BID BECKONS FOR ADAM HASNER via Jeff Henderson of Sunshine State News
There’s speculation that he will run for Congress again in 2014, this time against Democrat freshman Patrick Murphy. Hasner has remained active in Murphy’s district, which is slightly north of where Hasner ran last time. It includes all of St. Lucie County and Martin County and a part of Palm Beach County.
During his time in Tallahassee, Hasner represented part of Palm Beach and Broward counties. Frankel represents the same counties in Congress but there are major political differences between her district and the one Murphy represents. Unlike Frankel’s district, which leans Democratic, Republicans have a slight advantage over the Democrats in terms of registration in Murphy’s district.
Hasner has been making the rounds at local GOP events, though a crowd of Republican candidates — including Ellen Andel, Carl Domino and Alan Schlesinger — has already lined up to run against Murphy. Other Republicans, including Gayle Harrell, could still enter the race.
Still, if he enters, Hasner has a chance. Republican leaders appreciate his battle against Frankel in a tough district and he has been a proven fundraiser. Hasner is certainly a conservative on fiscal and social issues. Like Allen West, whom Murphy defeated in 2012, Hasner has been a staunch supporter of the War on Terror and has offered numerous warnings about radical Islam.
But Hasner is a much smoother politician than West is. While West often shot himself in the foot with his style and comments, Hasner can often take the same issues but present them less antagonistically.
THE DEBATE OVER POLITICAL ROBOCALLS via POLITICO Influence
Political robocalls are legal and specifically exempt from the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call list. But one entrepreneur has developed a device that would block illegal robocalls – and give users the option to opt out of (legal) political calls as well. It’s a private sector solution to something that’s been debated in Congress.
The Kedlin Company is hunting around for funds to bring the Call Control Home to market. The device – which actually began first as an app for smartphones – plugs into landline phones. “I’m sure it’s going to ruffle some feathers with politicians,” said Ben Sharpe , CEO of the company. But, he said “it comes down with a consumer’s choice.” On the other hand, the FTC is reportedly excited about the possibility of a consumer product that can stop illegal robocalls – one of the biggest consumer headaches that the agency has to deal with.
The FTC convened a summit with private sector stakeholders in October of last year to discuss the issue of scam robocalls, which often prey on the elderly. ‘Through that summit, we were able to make some connections with some of the state law enforcement agencies” and other federal and state policymakers, said Sharpe. Worth watching: whether the company faces any regulatory hurdles – on one hand, it’s solving a problem the FTC wants solved; on the other hand, it could block a favorite tool of political campaigns and consultants.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) also has a bill that would allow consumers to opt out of political robocalls as well in the ‘Do Not Call’ registry. ‘The Robo COP Act will solve this problem for the American people by allowing them to opt out of these calls by signing up for the federal government’s ‘Do Not Call’ list,” Foxx said in a March statement.
TOP DONOR RALLIES GOP WOMEN via Alexander Burns of POLITICO
Pennsylvania energy executive Christine Toretti, who served as the finance co-chair of the Republican National Committee in 2012, told POLITICO she will head up a super PAC dubbed Women Lead. The organization aims to drum up contributions from other deep-pocketed Republican women, and use them to promote women running across the country in 2014 and beyond. A longtime member of the RNC who has donated some $600,000 to Republican candidates and committees over the years according to the Federal Election Commission, Toretti said she came away from the 2012 election convinced that female donors needed a stronger role in intra-party Republican politics. … Republicans lost women voters by 11 percentage points in the last presidential election, according to national exit polls, and failed to win multiple Senate races where male GOP candidates made [offensive] comments about rape and abortion …
Toretti will have only one adviser on staff at Women Lead at the outset: Courtney Johnson, a former Mitt Romney campaign aide who managed the Women for Mitt outreach effort. … In a statement to POLITICO, [Speaker] Boehner endorsed both the goals of Toretti’s project and her leadership. … The RNC, National Republican Congressional Committee and Republican State Leadership Committee have all announced initiatives to recruit women candidates for the 2014 election cycle. (There are already four Republican women who serve as governors, compared with just one female Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.)
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SUNDAY’S BIG READS
COLIN POWELL CALLS ZIMMERMAN VERDICT ‘QUESTIONABLE’
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says the jury verdict that freed the killer of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was “questionable.” But he isn’t sure it will have staying power in the public consciousness.
Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation, Powell said cases like Martin’s “blaze across the midnight sky” and are forgotten.
The first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and first black secretary of state, Powell says America has come a long way toward racial equality 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Powell recalled being refused service when trying to buy a hamburger before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Minorities have many more opportunities today, but Powell says King would still demand work on education, housing and economic opportunities.
FLORIDA’S PUBLIC HEALTH DENTAL PROGRAM, SCARCE AS HEN’S TEETH via contributor Karen Cyphers
Florida lawmakers have a lot to congratulate each other about as the state rises in national rank on numerous economic, employment, and health care factors. But access to oral health care is not one of those things. To the contrary, Florida has continued its barely abated tank in all measures of oral health: fewer low-income kids in Florida see a dentist than in any other state. Florida has the 8th worst dentist shortage in the nation, and more than one-third of dentists in Florida are above the age of 55. This matters.
To put it bluntly, what happens in the mouth doesn’t stay in the mouth. Oral health — and the lack of it — is linked to a growing number of systemic health problems, namely coronary artery disease, low birth weight and premature birth, and diabetes, along with a number of other unlikely sequelae such as Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. Then there are the developmental impacts of dental disease on children: demonstrably more emergency room visits, pain, absences from school, and suffering grades. That’s a costly spiral. And a wholly preventable one.
You know how hard it is to get in with a dentist on a Friday afternoon? That Friday afternoon is every day of the week, all year long, for low-income Floridians. In 2011, less than one-quarter of Medicaid-enrolled children in Florida received dental care, and in 2010, only 15% of dentist accepted Medicaid patients.
And while Florida has seen some notable strides through the statewide prepaid dental program, which has measurably improved Medicaid dental networks, this effort is already in danger and improvements will go by the wayside when the program sunsets in October 2014. Florida’s starting point is no recipe for success, but nor is it an honest excuse. … Keep reading the full post here.
ONE YEAR AFTER RNC, BUSH, RUBIO LOSE LUSTER via William March of the Tampa Tribune
As recently as six months ago, Florida, a state with a poor record for producing presidential candidates, appeared to be striking gold at last.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio were among the top three or four candidates, sometimes at the very top, in nearly every poll of Republicans on the 2016 presidential nomination. They had starring roles at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa one year ago this week, with Rubio introducing nominee Mitt Romney.
Today, things look different.
Both have dropped in polls, and some prominent analysts aren’t even including Bush in their rankings because of questions about whether he’ll run.
Both have been undercut by the Republican Party’s rapid shift to the right. Once seen as the conservative cutting edge of the party, both are now viewed with suspicion by the increasingly ideological GOP base and the tea party movement, largely because of their signature issues — education for Bush and immigration for Rubio.
Political experts say this could be just a temporary drop in Bush’s and Rubio’s standings.
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ABOUT LAST NIGHT: DOLPHINS OWNER STEVE ROSS RAISED MONEY FOR SCOTT’S RE-ELECTION
Something tells me Speaker Weatherford missed this event.
Gov. Scott fundraised over the weekend at the Hamptons home of Steve Ross — the Miami Dolphins owner who has become a lead antagonist of Weatherford and other Republican lawmakers.
Scott and his wife were feted at cocktails and dinner by Ross on Sunday night, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.
Ross recently launched a super PAC aimed at supporting Scott and slamming lawmakers of both parties over the rejection of a one-cent increase in the hotel bed tax to help fund a refurbishing of the Dolphins’ stadium.
TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: Dolphins wouldve beaten Bucs if only @willweatherford et al had allowed Miami-Dade taxpayers a vote on publicly financing stadium upgrades
TRANSPARENCY LACKING IN SCOTT’S ‘SUNBURST’ PROGRAM via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
Scott has not kept a commitment he made more than a year ago to broaden the email transparency system beyond his inner circle of 11 senior staff members to include the many agencies under his command.
In fact, the governor’s office still struggles to meet Scott’s own timetable for making messages available.
Not all emails are online within seven days, as Scott said they would be 15 months ago. In addition, Scott’s stated goal of making many emails available within 24 hours has met with uneven results, giving Sunburst a perpetually cloudy image.
“Project Sunburst had the potential to be recognized globally as a government transparency innovation,” says Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, the independent government watchdog group. “The basic promises of the project have not been kept.”
Even Scott’s top adviser, Chief of Staff Adam Hollingsworth, concedes that Sunburst discourages people from sending emails for fear they will be on public display.
“It actually may have a dampening effect on people’s desire to send communications to the office,” he said.
AN IMPORTANT QUESTION FOR ALEX SINK via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times
Appeared on WEDU’s Florida This Week show along with Susan MacManus of USF and former Pinellas GOP chairman Paul Bedinghaus … Bedinghaus I think had a very astute comment that I hadn’t heard before during a discussion of whether Alex Sink is likely to run again for governor:
“Alex Sink is a terrific lady and a very capable CFO,” the former treasurer of the state GOP said. “But when I’m voting for somebody, I don’t want to vote for somebody that’s a reluctant candidate. I want someone that has the passion in their gut to serve this state. So I think she really has to think that through. The image that she’s projecting is that she’s a reluctant candidate, and I don’t think that’s a winning formula.”
CRIST CANCELS BUT GOV’S RACE STILL HOT TOPIC AT DEM FUNDRAISER via Chris Graham of the Daytona Beach News-Journal
Former Republican governor-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist had a family emergency and was unable to give the keynote speech at the Volusia County Democratic Party’s fundraiser Saturday night.
But Crist, considered a potential (not yet announced) frontrunner to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in the 2014 gubernatorial race, was still the topic of discussion among local and state leaders looking to unite the party, though many in attendance were not ready to hand him the nomination.
“We’re at a real crossroads right now in the party,” said Vonzelle Johnson, chairman of the Volusia County Democratic Party. He added an ideal candidate will be able to understand important social issues as well as economic development.
State Rep. Dwayne Taylor, who filled in as keynote speaker Saturday, said the state as it is now is ready for a different leader.
“I think there’s so many problems in this state, we can unite under anyone,” he said, adding Crist’s past term as governor gives him an advantage over other candidates.
JOHN THRASHER FOR LG?
That’s what Adam Smith and Steve Bousquet think, writing in Sunday’s edition of the Tampa Bay Times, “If we had to put money on anyone to become Rick Scott’s next lieutenant governor, it would be the conservative state senator, a former House speaker. With Scott’s chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, personally handling the selection, a trusted and sharp ally from the Jacksonville area might be just the ticket.”
Thrasher as LG makes sense in light of Hollingsworth’s recent comments that whoever is chosen should be “a steward of the governor’s vision and character.”
THRASHER DOWNPLAYS via an exclusive reax: “I have not spoken to the governor or any of his staff about any of this, I believe this is just a media rumor.”
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APPOINTED: Michael G. Mikurak to the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County.
DEP GETS NEW DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CHIEF OF STAFF via Bruce Ritchie of the Florida Current
Drew Bartlett on Friday was named deputy secretary for water policy and ecosystem restoration at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, replacing Greg Munson.
DEP also said Friday that Leonard “Lennie” Zeiler, a former legislative committee staff director, had begun work as department chief of staff following the departure of Jennifer Fitzwater to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Bartlett has been DEP’s director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration since 2011, overseeing the development of numeric nutrient criteria and watershed restoration plans.
Munson had oversight of Everglades restoration and other ecosystem projects but was not over Bartlett’s division. With Bartlett’s move to deputy secretary, his Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration also will shift to be aligned under the deputy secretary for water policy and ecosystem restoration.
EDUCATION SUMMIT BEGINS
Education, political and business leaders will gather for a summit that will include discussion of issues such as state standards, student assessments, school grades and teacher evaluations. The summit, announced by Gov. Scott, will run through Wednesday afternoon and comes as the education system grapples with a series of controversies. EpiCenter Collaborative Labs, St. Petersburg College, 13805 58th St. North, Clearwater.
NEWSMAKERS INTERVIEW WITH GRAY SWOOPE Watch here
On this week’s “Florida NewsMakers” program, Gray Swoope, Florida’s Secretary of Commerce and president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, sits down with Sachs Media Group’s Alia Faraj-Johnson. Their discussion centers on efforts to create jobs and attract new business to the state.
One mission of the state’s economic development arm is to cultivate competitive projects that create jobs, and Secretary Swoope says more than 350 of those projects have been won during Governor Rick Scott’s administration. “That’s where Enterprise Florida and our team work relentlessly – to win those projects so Florida families can have jobs,” Swoope tells Faraj-Johnson. When it comes to recruiting those companies, tax incentives are a very important part of the economic development process, Swoope says, adding, “I’ve always said that incentives will never make a bad deal good, but they could make a good deal better.” Swoope also addresses ways to measure a company’s performance and make sure the state receives a positive return on investment.
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FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Rep. Kathleen Peters
“Got to chase down and catch crooks today! A woman was scamming seniors. Targeted my father. Got him to let her in his home, got all his cash. She came back for a third time this moring, not knowing I was there. She took off down the street. On foot, I chased behind her on the phone with the police. Treasure Island Police acted quickly and caught her and the guy that teamed up with her. Glad I was there.”
LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via The Florida Current, which itself now refers to these personnel moves as ‘the carousel’
On: Carole Hays has joined Rep. Janet Adkins’ office as a district secretary.
On: In Rep. Matt Caldwell’s office, Priscilla Bezerra has taken a district secretary role in Rep. Matt Caldwell’s ofice.
Off: Erma Perry has departed Rep. Cynthia Stafford’s staff; Tyrone Hall has taken that position.
REP. LINDA STEWART SEEKS $3 RENTAL CAR FEES
A new bill filed by state Rep. Linda Stewart could put a wedge between mass-transit advocates and airport users.
As a plan to raise money for public transportation, the Orlando Democrat is asking lawmakers to consider HB 13, allowing counties to let voters decide on a $3-per-day fee on rental cars.
The fee would apply for the first 30 days of the rental period, and only for rentals carrying fewer than nine passengers.
Stewart, a former Orange County Commissioner, is a well-known backer of SunRail commuter-rail, the system currently under construction that will link Poinciana to downtown Orlando.
In the 2013 legislative session, Stewart filed a similar proposal (HB117). But in the GOP-controlled House, with several members adverse to raising or adding new taxes, the bill died in committee.
REP. RAY PILON NOT AFRAID TO RUN COUNTER TO JEB AND OTHERS via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Pilon knows he is at odds with most of the rest of the region’s delegation and other key state GOP leaders, notably former Gov. Jeb Bush.
But still, that is not stopping him from becoming a critic of new statewide education standards called Common Core.
“There is nothing wrong with a delegation having different view points,” Pilon said.
Pilon said he’s seen the arguments from Bush and state Sen. John Thrasher about why Common Core is needed, but he still doesn’t agree. Thrasher recently wrote a long message to Republicans stressing that the reforms are a result of conservative education reforms. Common Core is not a federal dictate, an attempt to invade student privacy or control local curriculums, Thrasher wrote in a piece co-authored by four other former Republican Party of Florida chairman.
“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” the message from Thrasher and the others state party leaders.
Pilon said he read Thrasher’s piece but…
“I’m not buying that either,” Pilon said.
SEN. JEFF BRANDES WANTS TO KILL PTC IN ORDER TO BRING UBER TO TAMPA BAY via Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing
Uber began in San Francisco in 2010, and has since expanded to Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York City. And for a brief shining moment a year ago, Tampa Bay area residents were able to get a taste of the popular service when Uber came to town for the Republican National Convention. But the trendy car service didn’t stick around post-RNC because of a mandated $50-minimum charge for limos and other premium cars imposed by Hillsborough County’s Public Transportation Commission.
That mandate is one reason that … Brandes wants to eliminate the controversial agency.
“Here’s a company that will transcend regions, that wants to operate in our backyard, that has a phenomenal product that people are using around the country, and we’re going to be considered a backwater if we don’t bring them here,” says Brandes.
The St.Petersburg-based legislator said he had dinner with Uber officials last week, and they contend that “arcane rules” are keeping the company out of Florida. To be clear, however, it’s not just the PTC’s rules that are keeping Uber out of Florida.
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CHRIS LATVALA TO HOLD MEGA FUNDRAISER SEPT. 10
Chris Latvala, candidate for House District 67, will hold a fundraising reception on Tuesday, Sept. 10, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa. His host committee is complete with Representatives Jamie Grant, Jake Raburn, Dan Raulerson, Ross Spano, and Dana Young; Senators Tom Lee and John Legg; Commissioners Al Higginbothan, Sandy Murman, and Mark Sharpe; and 31 others from around his community.
CHRIS SPROWLS TO KICK OFF CAMPAIGN WITH THE “65 FOR 65” HOST TEAM
Chris Sprowls will kick off his campaign for House District 65 with a host committee comprised of, you guessed it, 65 local and state leaders and constituents. Leading the host team is Speaker Weatherford. Join them all at the Riverside Grille House Veranda on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 6:00 p.m.
JOSH IZAAK FILES AGAINST REP. KEVIN RADER via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
University of Florida law student Joshua Izaak has launched a Democratic primary challenge to state Rep. Kevin Rader, accusing insurance agency co-owner Rader of being too close to the insurance industry.
Rader, who has fended off similar criticisms throughout his career, can’t grouse about drawing a challenge from his own party. He won the seat last year by toppling Democratic incumbent Steven Perman in a primary.
PERSONNEL NOTE: Beth Matuga is starting today as the new finance director of the Florida Democratic Party’s Senate Victory effort.
QUALIFYING OPENS IN HOUSE DISTRICT 36 RACE via The News Service of Florida
Qualifying will begin at 8 a.m. in a special election to replace former state Rep. Mike Fasano. The qualifying period ends at noon Tuesday.
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INVESTIGATION INTO KEN PRUITT’S LOBBYING MOONLIGHTING via George Andreassi of TCPalm.com
Pruitt traveled to meetings outside St. Lucie County and sent emails from his private account for his high-paying lobbying business during the property appraiser office’s business hours, a Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers investigation found.
The outside pay and lobbying work during office hours prompted critics to question whether the seasoned politician devotes enough time and effort to serving the public, which property appraisers in four nearby counties say is an all-consuming occupation.
“Everybody I’ve talked to is upset about it. They think it’s unfair,” said Ray Villanova, who lost to Pruitt in the 2010 property appraiser election. “They feel cheated and basically there is no recourse.
“Make a choice of one or the other. Simple as that,” Villanova advised Pruitt. “Either decide he wants to stay with the lobbying or become a full-time property appraiser and dedicate his time to the county.”
Of the 15 constitutional officers on the Treasure Coast, Pruitt alone earned large sums of income from outside employment in 2012, the newspaper investigation found. The other 14 constitutional officers in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties said they are too busy performing their official elected duties to even consider undertaking a second job.
St. Lucie County taxpayers paid Pruitt $124,003 in 2012, state records show. Pruitt received a total of $356,077 in income in 2012 from his private sector jobs.
LOBBYING FEE REPORTS ARE JUST ANOTHER TYPE OF COMPETITIONS via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel
It turns out that many of the massive hauls being reported are causing lobbyists to quietly cry foul on Florida’s nearly eight-year-old – but never fully implemented — lobbying law.
The behind-the-scenes criticism is focused on the law’s disclosure requirements that mandate only that lobbyist detail what they’re paid to ply their trade in $10,000 ranges. The reports have never been subjected to audits.
After lawmakers rushed the reform – which also banned gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers – through a December 2005 special session, the Legislature’s joint auditing committee spent two years contemplating how to conduct the random reviews.
But they ultimately punted. Now, many lobbyists complain that other lobbyists engage in financial gamesmanship in order to boost their status or draw new clients.
“The problem is that the competitive nature of the lobbying business got a … shot in the arm when the firm compensation reports began to be required,” said Jennifer Green, president of Liberty Partners of Florida and past chair of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists.
“Before, lobbying success was measured by how many clients a firm had listed on [its] lobbyist registration. Now, compensation reports can encourage firms to use news articles as marketing tools.”
LOBBYING SHOT AND CHASER
Shot: State Representative Jamie Grant confirmed to Creative Loafing last week that he and and a few other legislators are looking at crafting a bill calling for the demise of Hillsborough County’s Public Transportation Commission.
“I don’t want to be in a position of demolishing an inefficient agency or an inefficient arm of government at any level and then replacing it with another inefficient or obstructive agency,” the two-term Republican said. “I don’t know if it will be a local bill. But anything I introduce will be through the lens of embracing innovation here in Tampa Bay and trying to focus on job creation and letting people know that this is going to be a region and a place [where] innovators and entrepreneurs are going to be welcome.”
Chaser: Tampa Bay’s most influential locally-based lobbying firm, Corcoran & Johnston, registered with the state on Wednesday to represent the PTC. The contract is reportedly worth ninety thousand dollars per year.
At that rate, Corcoran & Johnston should ask Grant to suggest aloud that other agencies be shuttered.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Taylor Hatch, Guy Spearman: Department of Economic Opportunity
Stephen Hill: Seminole Behavioral Healthcare
Danny Jordan, Don Yaegar, One Eighty Consulting: Experian Information Solutions
Christopher Lipson: Home Care Association of Florida
Jo Morris: Office of Financial Regulation
Lindsey Perkins: Ernst & Young LLP: LeadsOnline
Richard Reeves, Capitol Insight: Media 8, SAS Institute, Inc.
Damon Smith: GEO Group
Nancy Black Stewart: Fresenius Medical Care North America
UBER LOBBYIST PAUL BRADSAW’S $2,500 CHICKENS ARE “THE LAMBORGHINI OF POULTRY”
Readers of Sunburn most likely recognize the name of Paul Bradshaw as the founder of Southern Strategy Group, one of the state’s most powerful lobbying firms. What they may not know is that Bradshaw is the owner of Greenfire Farms where rare breeds of chickens, such as the Indonesian Ayam Cemani, can sell for as much of $2,500.
And while Bradshaw’s name recently popped in the media because of his firm’s eye-opening second-quarter compensation report, the husband of former Jeb Bush chief-of-staff Sally Bradshaw, is getting national ink for his, um, taste in chicken.
“To be fair, it is an all black chicken,” Cowin says. “So it’s very chic. Its feathers are black. Its organs are black. Its meat is black. So it’s very special, it’s a rare breed chicken.”
Collectors buy the bird because it’s exotic and beautiful. Cowin says you can collect the large, cream-colored eggs and eat them… but:
“At $2,500 a pop, $5,000 for a pair, you’re probably not gonna go eat that bird anytime soon,” she notes. “The market is not large, but it’s passionate. This guy [Paul Bradshaw] who has imported this breed…he has a higher demand for these chickens than any other chickens in his rare breed collection. So among the people who care… they do care a lot.”
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Sen. Rob Bradley, Dan Bruno, Steve Cona, Andrea Becker Reilly, and Troy Kinsey. Celebrating today is Doug Adkins, Nereia Cormier, and Rep. Irv Slosberg.