Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – December 2

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the public affairs firm known for unparalleled relationships and winning strategies: In the 1980s, brutal Colombian drug traffickers transformed the streets of Miami into the violent hub of American drug trade. The undisputed kingpin of these Cocaine Cowboys was notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, but his reign came to an abrupt end on this date in 1993 when he was gunned down by security forces in his hometown of Medellín. Escobar’s personal net worth had reached an estimated $30 billion, and his holdings included a 7,300-square-foot Miami Beach home (which sold this summer for $9.65 million). Ironically, the so-called “King of Cocaine” rarely used the drug himself, reportedly preferring to indulge himself with marijuana.

Now, on to the ‘burn…

JEB BUSH MAINTAINS PROFILE AS HE WEIGHS 2016 RUN via Steve Peoples of the Associated Press

Republican Jeb Bush is keeping his public profile high with multiple appearances in Washington on Monday as he decides whether to run for president.

The former Florida governor attended a fundraiser for Republican Senate hopeful Bill Cassidy, less than a week before Cassidy faces incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in a runoff election that could increase the GOP’s new majority.

As the only unresolved Senate contest in the 2014 midterm season, the Louisiana election has drawn interest from several potential presidential candidates. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have already raised money or campaigned on Cassidy’s behalf.

“Republicans made history earlier this month, and we have the opportunity to build on our majority,” Bush wrote in a fundraising message formally endorsing Cassidy over the weekend, calling him his “friend.”

While in Washington, Bush also is expected to address the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council an invitation-only gathering of chief executives who generate more than $2 trillion in annual revenue. The participants also represent major political donors.

Bush will participate in a question-and-answer session with a moderator before taking questions directly from CEOs. An adviser said Bush would likely address his policies on education, immigration and tax policy at the event, although the discussion may drift into foreign policy.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN via The Ready for Hillary Store: “Cyber Monday — take 20% off!! (until midnight only)”


Though exit polls indicated Gov. Scott lost Hispanics by a 20 percentage-point margin, the Republican’s campaign conducted its own post-election survey that showed he might have almost tied Democrat Charlie Crist with these voters.

Scott’s survey, conducted by OnMessage Inc., shows Scott earned 47 percent of the Hispanic vote compared to Crist’s 49 percent, unlike the exit polls that had the Democrat leading the Republican 58-38 percent. The 2010 exit polls had Scott winning 50 percent of the Hispanic vote to Democrat Alex Sink’s 48 percent.

One potential problem with the surveys from OnMessage and Edison Research (which conducts the exit polls for media groups): Their Hispanic samples were relatively low. OnMessage’s sample was 304 and Edison’s was 367. So the error-margins of the results will vary widely. (UPDATE/aside: A few readers have pointed out it’s important to note that some voters in post-election surveys have a tendency to say they backed the winner).

A third survey, conducted on the eve of the election by the premier Hispanic polling firm of Latino Decisions, had 400 Florida respondents and found Crist leading Scott 52-45 percent — results that fall somewhere in between the OnMessage and Edison surveys.

OnMessage’s polling also took issue with Edison’s results for Cuban-American voters. It’s always a contested topic because Cubans (especially those in Miami-Dade) tend to vote Republican and are the most-reliable of Hispanic voters. Also, because Cuban-Americans are a subset of Hispanic voters, the margin of error in surveying this demographic group is even greater.



Florida’s chief inspector general Melinda Miguel quietly released the findings of an internal affairs investigation involving allegations of misconduct against five inspectors with the Florida Department of Corrections.

The inspectors, who filed a whistleblower suit against the state and FDOC in August, were accused of acting without authority when they executed a search warrant involving a female corrections officer who was accused of having sex with an inmate at Franklin Correctional Institution last year. The officer was later fired, but threatened to sue the agency, claiming that she was wrongly accused.

Miguel, who reports to Gov. Scott, completed the report in March but waited until after the election to release its results. The report concluded that the inspectors, whom Miguel had refused to give whistleblower protection, committed no wrongdoing and that the warrant was lawfully signed by a judge.

The inspectors contended that the probe was bogus,  launched by their boss, Jeffrey Beasley, in an effort to intimidate them after they had discovered, during the course of the sexual allegations at the prison, that the inspector general’s office had covered up the circumstances surrounding the 2010 death of a 27-year-old inmate, Randall Jordan-Aparo. That death is now under investigation by the FBI.

Miguel had refused to give the DOC investigators whistle-blower protection in March after they told her that Beasley was pressuring them not to charge anyone in the Jordan-Aparo case. She also refused to give whistle-blower protection to a DOC probation officer who, in 2011, told her about suspicious aspects of Jordan-Aparo’s death. That officer, Cristina Bullins, was subsequently fired, though the department said that was over taking unapproved leave time.

Miguel has come under fire after she received an anonymous letter warning her of the suspicious death of Aparo and Darren Rainey at Miami Correctional. Rather than conducting the investigation herself, she turned the letter over to the DOC’s inspector general’s office, which conducted a cursory review. A summary of the DOC report notes some “staff violations’’ in connection with Jordan-Aparo’s death, and states that Miami-Dade police were handling Rainey’s case.


Transportation funding is up for discussion at the Revenue Estimating Conference, which starts 2:30 p.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.


Crisafulli unveiled his list of which members will chair which committees. These leadership positions will shape the course of Florida government for the next two years.

“As I said in my remarks during Organization Session, one of our goals over the next two years is to continue to strengthen the great brand of Florida,” Crisafulli wrote in a memo to members of the Florida House on Monday. “The brand that marks this House is that every word, action, thought, and deed is all about Florida. I believe the individuals I have appointed to these leadership positions will truly put Floridians first.”

Speaker-to-be Richard Corcoran previously was announced as chair of the Appropriations Committee.

State Rep. Ben Albritton will lead the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

State Rep. Erik Fresen will chair the Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

State Rep. Jeanett Nunez will chair the Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.

As expected, House Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Hudson will chair the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

State Rep. Larry Metz will lead the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

State Rep. Clay Ingram will chair the Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

READ HERE WITHOUT DOWNLOADING: Complete list of committee chairs

RIDIC TWEET OF THE DAY via @JLRosicaTBO: Except for Corcoran, Tampa Bay unrepresented in House leadership WHAT ABOUT MAJORITY LEADER DANA YOUNG?!


A pair of legislative bills, one in the Florida House and the other in the Senate, would have replenished the state’s empty pot of tax incentives for the film and television industry by $50 million to $200 million a year. Both failed to pass this year.

2015 could be different. A similar effort already has the early backing of leaders from both branches of the Florida Legislature. Add to that potential tweaks in how incentive money is doled out, and representatives of the state’s film and television industry are cautiously optimistic new funds will be found next year for the tax incentives they say are needed to lure major productions to the state.

“We didn’t accomplish what we wanted last session, but we established momentum,” said Gus Corbella, chair of the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council, lead advisory body to Florida leaders on entertainment issues.

Corbella said the list of elected officials who say bringing more film and television productions to Florida is a top priority are incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and Senate President Andy Gardiner.

“To have both presiding officers publicly stating support is a huge thing,” Corbella said.

He said he could not yet comment on how the new proposed bill will differ from the previous versions.

State Sen. Jack Latvala said he understands the importance of offering tax incentives to productions and will support the cause but said any new bill must include language changing the way the existing program is run.


A public hearing by the Broward County legislative delegation will discuss local bills, education, health and human services among other local issues. The meeting starts 9 a.m. at Bailey Hall on the Davie Campus of Broward College, 3501 S.W. Davie Road.


A public meeting of the Lake County legislative delegation to prepare for the 2015 legislative session begins 1 p.m. at the Lake-Sumter State College Fine Arts Auditorium, 9501 U.S. 441, in Leesburg.


A mandate-free health care “marketplace” established by former House Speaker Marco Rubio will start selling plans that are compliant with the federal health care law.

But a move to have the marketplace interface with the federal health insurance exchange so low income Floridians can qualify for tax credits hasn’t come to fruition, correspondence from Florida Health Choices Chief Executive Officer Rose Naff shows.

In a December 1 letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell Florida Health Choices Chief Executive Officer Rose M. Naff said the program will begin offering products that are compliant with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–commonly called Obamacare–in “a few short weeks.”

She said the organization –created in statute as a mandate free health care marketplace by Rubio — did not offer the product on November 15 in deference to the federal government and to “minimize confusion among your target audience.”

In addition to selling PPACA-compliant plans, Naff wanted to establish a process and interface that would allow individuals who visited the Florida Health Choices marketplace to “be seemlessly qualified for federal tax” credits that are available through the federal exchange site, or

Health insurance exchanges are one key feature of the federal law. Florida did not establish a state run exchange as allowed under the law and, as a result, Floridians who want to tap into available subsidies to purchase PPACA compliant health plans must, instead, enroll in the federal exchange.

The subsidies–and whether they are available through a federal exchange–is the subject of litigation and the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case addressing the issue.

GAY COUPLE SUES DMV OVER DRIVER’S LICENSE NAMES via Mike Schneider of the Associated Press

A gay couple sued the state’s motor vehicle agency for revoking drivers’ licenses they said they received by showing their marriage license from New York, the latest challenge to Florida’s ban on same-sex unions.

Daniel DeSousa and Scott Wall married in New York last year and legally changed their last name to Wall-DeSousa through the federal Social Security Administration.

Daniel changed his driver’s license in Brevard County, but when Scott tried there, he was told that his marriage certificate wasn’t a legal document in Florida. Scott later succeeded in changing his license in Orange County.

The couple said when they went public with their new drivers’ licenses in an interview with an Orlando television station, they received a letter from the DMV, stating their licenses had been cancelled.

The lawsuit filed last week in Orlando federal court demands that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles grant them licenses with their new names. The couple said the state agency is violating their rights to due process, equal protection and free speech.

The agency is “trying to suppress the expression that the plaintiffs, as a same-sex couple, are a family,” the lawsuit said.

An agency spokesman, John Lucas, said his office hadn’t received a copy of the lawsuit and so he couldn’t comment on it.

“It was brought to our attention that the license had been improperly issued,” Lucas said. “Under law, we were forced to recall it.”


State officials later this week will decide on which holiday displays will be allowed in the Capitol rotunda, said a spokesman for the Department of Management Services.

Six applications have so far been received to have a display this winter holiday season, department spokesperson Ben Wolf said:

Chaz Stevens, the South Florida blogger who last year placed a 6-foot “Festivus” pole made of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans, inspired by the made-up holiday from a 1997 “Seinfeld” episode.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which placed a “Winter Solstice” banner last year.

The International House of Prayer-Tallahassee, which believes in continuous “24/7” prayer to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ, according to its website.

The Florida Prayer Network/Florida Nativity Scene Committee, which placed a nativity scene last year.

American Atheists, who placed a medium-sized board with a tongue-in-cheek message to “celebrate the true meaning of Xmas,” including “friends,” “fun” and “Chinese food.”

The New York-based Satanic Temple, whose submission was rejected last year for being “grossly offensive.”


At least two of the city of Fort Lauderdale’s official websites are down following threats from the hacker group Anonymous regarding the South Florida city’s ban on feeding the homeless.

The websites and were both down Monday evening. In a video claimed to be posted by Anonymous earlier Monday, an unidentified person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and speaking with a digitally altered voice threatened to crash the websites if the city didn’t lift bans on panhandling at intersections, sleeping in public downtown and feeding the homeless.

Fort Lauderdale drew national attention last month after police cited a 90-year-old man and two pastors for feeding homeless people at Fort Lauderdale Beach.

City Manager Lee Feldman told The Associated Press Monday evening that officials were discussing the issue.

APPOINTED: Jay Madara and Shawn “Michael” Scheeringa to the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

APPOINTED: Allen Jones to the Indian River County Hospital District Board of Trustees.

REAPPOINTED: James “Jim” Holton to the Board of Governors, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

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As the noon deadline approaches, 10 candidates have so far qualified for a Northeast Florida special Senate and two special House elections.

The state called the special elections after former Sen. John Thrasher vacated his Senate District 6 seat in November to take the job of Florida State University president. The qualifying period began yesterday morning, and continues through noon today.

Republicans state Rep. Travis Hutson from Elkton, state Rep. Ronald “Doc” Renuart from Ponte Vedra Beach and Daytona Beach Democrat David Cox each qualified for the Senate District 6 race, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

As of yesterday evening, the DoE website also showed St. Johns County Republicans Jack Capra, Michael Davis and Cyndi Stevenson, as well as write-in candidate Mary Anne Boczek, qualified in Renuart’s House District 17.

Republican Paul Renner from Palm Coast and St. Augustine Republicans Sheamus McNeeley and Ron Sanchez also qualified in the House District 24 race, soon vacated by Hutson.

Special primary elections are set for Jan. 27, with the special general elections on April 7. Senate District 6 covers St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam counties and a portion of Volusia County.

House District 17 covers St. Johns County. House District 24 includes Flagler County and parts of both St. Johns and Volusia Counties.


Not only is state Rep. Doc Renuart the first candidate to qualify for a special election in Senate District 6, but he is also the first to release a campaign mail piece.

With a focus on a career of service to improve life in Northeast Florida, Renuart’s mailer will hit mailboxes of Republican voters throughout District 6 starting today.

According to the ad, Renuart, who currently represents House District 17, is “a tireless leader for working families and military veterans” as well as a “driving force in Tallahassee behind legislation that cuts taxes, streamlines state government, and promotes family values.” Renuart, a physician and former Chief of Medicine at the Baptist Medical Center Beaches, was first elected to the House in 2008.

“As a physician,” Renuart’s flyer says, “I spend my days talking with real people who have serious concerns – good-paying jobs and making ends meet are at the top of the list. To strengthen our economy, Florida must continue to attract job creators by cutting government red tape and creating a climate that allows businesses to begin and grow.”

ENDORSEMENT: In House district 13 special election, State Rep. Reggie Fullwood received the endorsement of the Florida AFL-CIO, which represents over 500,000 members statewide. “I want to thank President Mike Williams, the entire Florida AFL-CIO leadership team, and the thousands of hardworking women and men who truly make Florida go for their endorsement,” Fullwood said I am proud to share the Florida AFL-CIO’s values of giving working families a raise, protecting our state workers, and expanding access to affordable healthcare.”

JAMIE GRANT, MIRIAM STEINBERG FILE TO RUN FOR HD 64 SEAT via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Jamie Grant, who most recently represented District 64 in the Florida House of Representatives, filed paperwork last week to run again for the seat.

Grant, a 32-year-old Republican and tech entrepreneur, is now the first candidate in the field, according to Division of Elections records viewed Monday.

Grant filed to run the day before Thanksgiving.

He held the seat since 2010 and was re-elected last month, but the House rejected the results and vacated the office because of months-long and still unresolved litigation over a write-in candidate.

Grant’s former GOP challenger, Tampa engineer Miriam Steinberg also filed her statement of candidacy as a Republican with the Division of Elections.

She also named her husband, Tampa attorney Michael Steinberg, as her campaign treasurer.

Michael Steinberg, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit against write-in candidate Daniel Matthews, saying the write-in was unfairly preventing him and other Democrats and non-party affiliated voters from casting ballots in an open, or “universal,” primary earlier this year.

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EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “What about some “SAINT PETERS BLOG” California wine.”

HEADLINE OF THE DAY via The Palm Beach Post: “Double D strip club appears unstoppable


U.S. President Frank Underwood will take office on February 27, 2015.

(Spoiler alert … oops)

House of Cards, Netflix’s first major breakout hit, stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as a Washington, D.C., couple ruthlessly moving up the ladder to the Oval Office.

Renewed for a third season, the show picks up after Spacey’s Vice President Francis Underwood assumes the role of commander-in-chief after his predecessor resigns, the result of a series of political (and lethal) intrigues.

The show made its  announcement for the season three debut via Twitter, and completely in character.

Adapted from a BBC miniseries, House of Cards — the show that put the online streaming service on the popular culture map — was the first online-only television series nominated for both Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

As Netflix debuts all episodes of a series at once – and Feb. 27 is on a Friday – expect a lot of binge watching throughout that weekend.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Sarah Criser and Debbie Mayfield.

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.