Sunburn for 9/12 — 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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House Republicans up and down the conference are “struggling to fully coalesce around a plan to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month.” GOP leadership’s plan to fund the government through a continuing resolution that would feature a provision defunding the Affordable Care Act is not going over well with several conservative lawmakers who believe the move is merely a “show vote” because the Senate could easily remove the language from the bill. Because no Democrats are expected to support the proposal, only 17 Republicans would need to oppose it to kill its chances. House leadership of both parties are due to meetThursday to discuss the debt ceiling and government funding.


A new report released today finds American families increasingly divided by many factors, including race, class, and education, because of growing economic inequality wrought by the Great Recession. The study’s authors contend the divergence of American families is felt particularly by children born into families that either set them on a path to great success or extreme disadvantage. “I was struck by how strong the divide has become in terms of education,” said report author Zhenchao Qian, a sociologist at Ohio State University. “The gap between the haves and the have-nots, and the children who excel and who lag behind, grew larger than ever in the 2000s.


The Washington Post‘s Brad Plumer examines an analogy proffered by the Heritage Foundation, in which federal government expenditures are extrapolated to the spending habits of an average American family. According to Heritage, a family with the national median income of $52,000 would spend $64,000 per year, despite carrying $312,000 in credit-card debt. Plumer argues that the comparison “seems incomplete,” noting the percentages of household income that would be spent on defense, health care, and retirement for the elderly, and “operating a massive insurance conglomerate whose main beneficiaries are family members.” Ultimately, he writes, “The U.S. federal government really does resemble your typical money-printing family that owns lots of tanks, operates a giant insurance conglomerate, can borrow money at extremely low rates, and is assumed to be immortal.”

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There’s a famous book titled “How to Lie with Statistics” — but according to a breaking study, lying is only half of it: partisans, it turns out (and particularly those who are good at math!) interpret numbers as they want them to be, not as they really are. An experiment conducted by researchers from Yale, Ohio State, Cornell, and Oregon, finds that people who are otherwise good at math are far more likely to lose their reasoning abilities when calculating solutions that run contrary to their political beliefs. A total of 1,111 participants engaged in the study, which began with a series of questions to gauge mathematical reasoning ability, referred to as “numeracy”, and political orientation.  Participants were then asked to solve a problem that required interpreting the results of a mock scientific study.

For all participants, the data itself was identical. Some participants were told that the numbers represented the effectiveness of a new skin cream, while others were told it described the effectiveness of a ban on concealed handguns. Highly numerate liberal Democrats scored nearly perfectly when given a dataset showing that gun bans work — but only about half got the correct answer when the numbers showed increased crime following a gun ban. Likewise, about 80 percent of conservative Republicans answered correctly when given data that gun bans don’t work, while about half answered correctly when the numbers showed a gun ban working.

The study’s lead author Dan Kahn thinks the results reflect a blind spot that partisan people have when identifying results that undermine their views. But no matter the case, can we all agree that comes to partisan logic, sixty percent of the time it works every time?


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If the National Republican Congressional Committee had gotten it’s first choice for a candidate for Congress in 1980, perhaps Broward would have never sent E. Clay Shaw to Washington. In 1980, national Republicans pursued state sen. Van Poole (now a lobbyist). Poole declined but said that he had another guy in mind: Fort Lauderdale Mayor E. Clay Shaw. Poole said he brought Shaw and the NRCC rep together for lunch and urged Shaw to run.  Ultimately Shaw beat Democrat Alan Becker of the politically influential Becker Poliakoff law firm and went on to have a 26 year in Congress. 

“South Florida has lost a true gentleman — someone who served people of South Florida with integrity and honor,” said Eric Eikenberg, Shaw’s last chief of staff. The legislative accomplishment Shaw was most proud of was welfare reform legislation which he authored in the 1980s and eventually saw passed in 1996 under President Bill Clinton. “Clay Shaw was there from the beginning until the end. Bill Clinton signed welfare Aug. 22, 1996 Clay Shaw’s wedding anniversary,” Eikenberg said. Shaw was proud of the fact that millions of Americans were no longer dependent on government and were working.

Though Shaw was seen as a very calm and nice man, “when it came to politics and campaigning he was as fierce as anyone you ever met,” Eikenberg recounted. “He was disappointed to leave Congress after the 2006 election but he was quickly able to look back at the totality of a career that spanned four U.S. presidents that captured so many accomplishments he was proud of.”


Shaw, who served 13 terms in Congress, was, irrefutably, a conservative. But his conservatism was of a time and a philosophy and a demeanor that abided bipartisan compromise. Another difference: Rep. Shaw got things done.

Imagine, in this era of ferocious, militant ideological gridlock, a Republican congressman daring to reprise the radio ad Shaw ran during his 2006 reelection campaign. “The greatest moments of the Clinton years came when Democrats and Republicans worked together,” said the radio voice. “Like welfare reform. . . . Signed by Bill Clinton and written by our congressman, Clay Shaw.’’

Substitute “Obama” for “Clinton” in a contemporary campaign and the ideologue heads that dominate modern politics would explode.

The Fort Lauderdale congressman, who died Tuesday, was both an architect of the bipartisan welfare reform bill that Clinton signed in 1996 and a sponsor of a Social Security bill that eased earning restrictions for seniors collecting benefits — a bill that wouldn’t get a committee hearing, much less a vote, in today’s House of Representatives.

He bucked a Republican president to favor stem-cell research and oppose a Social Security privatization scheme. Imagine a modern “conservative,” ever mindful that Tea Party operatives monitor public utterances for impure thoughts, besmirching a proposed state constitutional amendment that would open the Florida coast to oil drilling. Yet Shaw asked, “Would we allow oil rigs on the rim of the Grand Canyon? At the foot of Old Faithful? This goes way too far and could mean the mass destruction of our beaches.”

Here was a conservative Republican best known as a defender of the Everglades, an ally with Democratic Sen. Bob Graham in pushing the Everglades Restoration Act. He accused his Democratic opponent in 2006 of taking money from “Big Sugar” and forsaking the Everglades clean-up. 


Senator Marco Rubio: “For over a quarter century, Clay Shaw epitomized everything a public servant should be and made South Floridians proud.  I was always impressed by Clay’s work on the causes he was most passionate about.  Clay’s impact on America will forever be felt through the important reforms he championed on welfare reform, Social Security reform and Everglades restoration.  My wife Jeanette and I are praying for Clay’s wife, Emilie, and their family in this time of grief, and I hope they will find some comfort in knowing he lived an extraordinary life in the service of his community and his country.”

Congressman Tom Rooney: ““For those of who have represented areas in South Florida and Palm Beach County, Clay Shaw casts a huge shadow. In his long career, he fought for conservative principles, valued results over rhetoric, and always listened to his constituents and put the needs of his district first. His example still serves as a guide for the Florida delegation, which he chaired for more than a decade. Clay Shaw loved his country and his state, was a true servant to his community, and he will be deeply missed.”

Gov. Rick Scott: “Ann and I join all Floridians as we mourn the passing of such an influential man. Our prayers remain with Representative Shaw’s wife, Emilie, and his entire family, as we offer our most sincere condolences today.”

Florida GOP Chairman Lenny Curry: “Clay Shaw served Florida and our country with distinction and honor for 26 years in the United States Congress. Congressman Shaw championed and authored welfare reform, making personal responsibility a large part of our federal government’s focus.  The Republican Party of Florida mourns with his wife Emilie, four children and 15 grandchildren. There’s no doubt that people across Florida are proud of of Congressman Shaw’s legacy.”

Morning Joe Scarborough (via Twitter): “Thoughts and prayers for Clay Shaw’s family. Clay was a friend and a champion for Florida.”

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ELECTION OFFICIALS SKEPTICAL OF SCOTT’S VOTER PURGE via Chris Graham of the Daytona Beach News-Journal

Gov. Scott is renewing a push to scrub noncitizens from the state’s voter rolls, but local officials are wary about whether the process is worth the effort.

“(The state) is trying to look for an issue that doesn’t exist,” Volusia County’s Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall said.

Five civil rights groups held a conference call this week to announce their plans to oppose Scott’s second attempt at a voter purge. And the topic is one of several McFall says will be discussed Thursday in a meeting with other elections supervisors from 13 of the largest counties in terms of registered voters.

McFall said many are on guard about the planned purge.

“I think most of the supervisors look at it with skepticism,” she said. “The list that we were given (last time) was not good and clean.”

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced Wednesday he will hold five meetings with county election officials in October on what he’s calling a “Project Integrity Tour.”


They may hold their noses while doing so, but business leaders are leaning toward backing Gov. Scott in his 2014 re-election bid.

Polls suggest Scott can be beaten on a broad set of issues. Yet on the topic of the Florida economy and jobs, where the business community’s heart lies, Scott’s message remains hyper-focused. The Sunshine State is a business-friendly, low-tax state. Join us.

That’s a grossly superficial sales pitch given the woes of low-wage work and rising costs confronting Floridians. Yet business leaders increasingly say it still helps to have a governor so willing to pick up the phone and personally urge some distant executive to expand in Florida.

Besides, what’s the alternative to Scott? More than a year before the election, Democratic contenders appear timid or cagey.


Tony Fabrizio, the pollster and strategist who interrupted Florida’s gubernatorial primary in 2010 to introduce Rick Scott to presumptive nominee Bill McCollum, is back. And he’s hungry.

At a speaking engagement in Miami-Dade yesterday week, Fabrizio was in usual effluvial form, practically begging Charlie Crist to enter the race and insinuating that the party-changing former governor may not make it past his new party’s primary.


By a show of hands, who thinks that Nan Rich — even with the help of what Fabrizio called “outside intervention” — can overtake Charlie? 

That’s what I thought.

Fabrizio jabbed at Crist’s record of tax hiking  and ‘betrayals’, sarcastically adding that the upcoming publication of Crist’s memoir will at least secure him a bright future as a “the number one fiction writer.”

If anyone qualifies as an experienced political fiction writer, it is Fabrizio. I mean, the man engineered Rick Scott’s rewrite from being a CEO forced to take the 5th a few dozen times in Medicare fraud depositions, to being a self-appointed anti-waste governor.

No doubt, that took balls (and a fair amount of self-delusion, to wit), but it worked. Crist and Fabrizio are well-matched, in that department.

“You know who is happy about him?” Fabrizio asked of Charlie’s forseen candidacy, “The Democratic power brokers who want power, but the average rank and file voter, they want to beat Rick Scott, but they’re not sure they want to sell their souls to beat Rick Scott.”

Clearly, Fabrizio knows a thing or two about soul selling.

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As she gears up for her re-election campaign, Attorney General Pam Bondi is considered a future standard-bearer for the state GOP.

However, as Lloyd Dunkelberger of the HTPolitics blog reports, the beginning might not be what Bondi intended. She is currently running defense for asking Gov. Scott to delay a death row execution so she can attend a significant “hometown fundraiser” in Tampa Tuesday.

Bondi did call the request a “mistake.”

Without a major contender for her re-election, it may be too soon to tell how this blunder will play out for Bondi politically.

On Sept. 27, Bondi will join two other rising Republican stars launching re-election bids — Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater — at the Sarasota Republican Party’s Statesman of the Year honoring Fox commentator Sean Hannity. Atwater amassed nearly $200,000 in campaign contributions so far, and Putnam has obtained nearly $600,000 for his re-election up to July 1.

With three heavyweight Republicans on the ballot, as well as Scott as top of the ticket, the GOP appears strong. Only one Democrat holds a leading statewide seat — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. If Scott should fail in 2014, the trio of names would be available to lead the party.

The only roadblocks in this GOP juggernaut are the relative obscurity of the Florida Cabinet since many voters may not be aware of the Agriculture Commissioner or state CFO. As for the higher-profile Attorney General, the execution delay for political reasons certainly gives Democrats ammunition against Bondi.

TWEET, TWEET: @TroyKinsey: Democrats rumored to be considering challenging Bondi in light of this week’s news: former lawmakers Rod Smith, Dan Gelber & Jack Seiler.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: On Tuesday, Sept. 17, The League of Women Voters and key area representatives from business, health and civic interests address Florida’s inaction to date on Medicaid expansion and speak to the business and economic justifications for the state’s acceptance of Medicaid expansion funds. Harbor Island Waterfront Plaza. 


A nominating panel Wednesday submitted names of three U.S. Attorney finalists to Florida’s two senators — Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio — who are expected to weigh in before forwarding them to the White House.

The finalists are Acting U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III, the Scout leader; Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg, who successfully prosecuted former Backstreet Boys manager Louis J. Pearlman in a $300 million fraud case; and Jacksonville lawyer Curry Gary Pajcic, the athlete who turned into a lawyer.

Bentley took over in July for Robert O’Neill, who joined a risk management company led by a former FBI director.

The Middle District includes 35 counties and stretches from Georgia to south of Naples.


The first statewide summit sponsored by the Sayfie Review takes place today and Friday in Orlando, dubbed “Engaging Florida’s Leaders, Shaping Florida’s Agenda, Prospering Florida’s Future.” Organizers expect Gov. Scott, AG Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to attend. Information about today’s agenda here. Friday’s agenda here.


The State University System Board of Governors holds its committee meetings and board meeting starting at 8 a.m. today at New College in Sarasota. The agenda and meeting materials packet can be found here

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It’s not in the format that the Florida Democratic Party could use, but the $147,000 from Rep. Darryl Rouson’s closed committee arrived at Tallahassee headquarters Wednesday.

“It’s a certified check and it has to be a bank check,” said Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston late Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s a major issue and I believe it’s being handled.”

Last week, Thurston and other party leaders told Rouson to close his Florida House Democratic Caucus Affiliated Party Committee, which he opened in August to finance races for House Democrats in his role as incoming Minority Leader.

But it took until Monday for the committee to be closed and until Wednesday for the money collected from donors to arrive at party headquarters, which miffed leaders like Thurston already steamed that Rouson was operating a fundraising committee without telling them.

“We aren’t happy with the delay of what we suggested,” Thurston said. 

The committee exposed long-standing tensions between party leaders and Rouson, a former Republican who is viewed by many as a maverick dealmaker. On Wednesday, Thurston scheduled a caucus meeting for all 44 House Democrats for Monday, Sept. 23, at 5 p.m. Unlike other caucus meetings where reporters and other members of the general public can attend, this one will be private.

“No legislative issues will be discussed and it’s strictly caucus issues,” Thurston said. “There are some issues we want to air out and I want members to be comfortable doing that.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It doesn’t make sense what he did. It’s more evidence that he shouldn’t lead our caucus.” — Rep. Mike Clelland


One of the surest ways to trample the equality granted to us by God and enshrined in the Constitution, is to segregate our fellow citizens through divisive language and labels. On a recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” I was introduced as “the first Republican African-American elected to the state legislature since the Civil War.” On that broadcast, I told the hosts that I reject the label of “African-American.” After all, I am a natural-born citizen of the United States as were my parents and grandparents. I served in our military as did my father and my grandfather. I am an American. This is my country!

I believe the time has come for all of us to set aside whatever pride we might have in our individual heritage, to reject the labels that divide us, reject those things that set us apart from one another, and reject anything that fails to advance the common good.

I will go to Tallahassee to represent all of the citizens who live in our Panhandle district, no matter what labels may be applied to them. I will make decisions with all of Florida’s citizens in mind and I will focus on those issues that demonstrate a path to prosperity for all of our people.


As Florida lawmakers, politicos and voters held a public discussion about the once-a-decade redistricting process in 2011 and 2012, Republican consultants were quietly and busily drawing maps that they later said were produced largely because of their interest in the process.

Meanwhile, GOP operatives were discussing redistricting with officials in Washington and one consultant was writing to another about an offer of help from “friends with deep pockets.”

Those portraits emerge from more than 100 pages of depositions filed recently in Leon County Circuit Court as part of the legal battle over whether the maps approved last year comply with the Fair Districts standards, a set of anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendments approved by voters in 2010.

The depositions by Marc Reichelderfer, a consultant, and Frank Terraferma, an employee of the Republican Party, paint the clearest picture yet of how a variety of outside forces worked to try to understand and influence a process that legislative leaders dubbed as the most transparent in state history.

While other documents released in the case have hinted at the efforts by consultants and party officials to come to grips with the process in light of the Fair Districts amendments, the testimony by Reichelderfer and Terraferma represents the fullest picture yet of what was happening on the periphery of the visible portion of redistricting.

… Reichelderfer brushed back the idea that there was something necessarily improper with staff members talking to political consultants about aspects of the redistricting process that didn’t touch directly on where to draw district lines — for example, which geographic features to use as guidelines under the Fair District amendments.

MY TAKE: This redistricting story plus Pam Bondi’s troubles equals a challenging week for uber political consultant Marc Reichelderfer, right?


The LBC meets to consider amendments to the 2012-13 state budget. Amendments have been submitted by agencies including the Department of Children and Families, the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Environmental Protection. The commission meets in Room 212 of the Knott Building at 1 p.m. The meeting packet can be here.

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BLAISE INGOGLIA READY TO ROCK THE HOUSE via Jeff Henderson with Sunshine State News

Even though he has yet to win a seat in the Legislature, Blaise Ingoglia — despite a glitch on his resume going in — is poised to be one of the leading Republicans in the Florida House and should be a strong voice for conservatives in Tallahassee. After starting a successful real estate career, Ingoglia became politically active, serving as the vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) — but he also remained a favorite of conservatives. Running his popular “Government Gone Wild” videos about the need to cut government spending, Ingoglia has the support of the tea party and is a popular speaker for conservative groups throughout Florida.

Ingoglia is well-positioned to be one of the most prominent freshmen in the House in early 2015. He is a strong conservative who is articulate and can make a convincing case for his ideals and positions. But that doesn’t mean he will automatically be a contender to become speaker after the 2020 elections despite, being uniquely on good terms with both the GOP establishment and the tea party. There have been questions about Ingoglia’s sales tactics and news broke earlier this year that he owed almost $12,000 in back taxes.

Republicans in the House can be excused if they don’t want another leader whose ethics are constantly under question. Even as the memory of Ray Sansom’s short time as House speaker fades, the example of Chris Dorworth remains fresh. After a series of questions about his ethics, voters tossed Dorworth out of office last year, even though he was scheduled to become House speaker in 2014.


Winter Park Republican David Dwyer filed papers Friday with the state Division of Elections to become the third GOP candidate seeking to unseat Castor Dentel in House District 30. The other Republicans in the Central Florida race are Bob Cortes and Scott Sturgill, both of Seminole County.

Meanwhile, Cape Coral Republican James Lloyd Roach filed papers to run against Eagle in District 77.


A race in South Florida to replace term-limited House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, has continued to get more crowded. Lauderhill Democrat Eric Alexander Fowler III last week joined two other Democrats who have signaled they will run in District 94. The others are Levoyd L. Williams of Lauderdale Lakes and Jimmy B. Witherspoon of Fort Lauderdale.

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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 at 6:00 p.m.


The Republican Party of Pinellas County invites you to a campaign kick-off fundraiser to benefit the re-election of Kathleen Peters. Join Sen. Jack Latvala, Mayors Bob Minning, Steve McFarlin and Travis Palladeno, Rick Baker, and others for the meet-and-greet from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center.

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The Sadowski Housing Coalition congratulated the recipients of the 2013 State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) Awards, which were announced at the close of the Florida Housing Coalition’s 26th Annual Statewide Affordable Housing Conference in Orlando, Fla. Recipients of the 2013 SHIP Awards are as follows: Special Needs Housing Assistance Award: THE JACKSONVILLE SHIP HOUSING & ABILITY HOUSING OF NORTHEAST FLORIDA, Outstanding Repair/Rehabilitation Program Award: ORANGE COUNTY HOUSING & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIVISION, Outstanding Purchase Assistance Program Award: PASCO COUNTY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, Outstanding Housing Assistance Award: CITY OF CAPE CORAL, Partnership of the Year Award: OKALOOSA COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Outstanding SHIP Administrator Award: PHYLLIS MOORE, SHIP Administrator, Gadsden County Community Development. 

“These are just a handful of the thousands of SHIP success stories,” said Jaimie Ross, president of the Florida Housing Coalition and facilitator for the Sadowski Housing Coalition. “But most of these stories are from years ago, as the legislature has swept the local housing trust fund to general revenue for the past four years. The diversion of housing trust fund dollars needs to come to an end with the 2014 Legislative Session. Florida cannot afford to lose the positive economic impact or the jobs that are created when housing funds are used to build and preserve affordable housing.  If the trust funds are used for housing, Floridians in need will be assisted and we will continue to have wonderful success stories.”


Amanda Prater: Youth Villages

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Siobhan Harley and Jeff Hartley.

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.