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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 8.11.16

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

KATIE LEDECKY WINS THIRD GOLD WITH DOMINATING RELAY SWIM via Paul Newberry of the Associated Press – Ledecky was the fastest swimmer in the pool, and she brought her American teammates along for the ride. The 19-year-old turned in another overpowering performance to carry the United States to victory in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, capturing her third gold and fourth medal overall at the Rio Olympics. The U.S. trailed through the first three legs of the race, as Sweden, China and then Australia swapped the top spot.

Then, it was Ledecky’s turn on the anchor leg. She blew everyone away. Ledecky turned in a split of 1 minute, 53.74 seconds, which was nearly 2.5 seconds faster than her next-fastest teammate, Allison Schmitt in 1:56.21. Only one other swimmer in the race, Australia’s Emma McKeon, got within a second of Ledecky’s four-lap time.

MICHAEL PHELPS TIES 2,000 YEAR OLD OLYMPIC RECORD via Rick Maese of the Washington Post – The swimmer’s win in the 200-meter butterfly Tuesday night not only gives him more gold than Scrooge McDuck, but it means he’s drawn into a tie for the most Olympic titles ever, according to historians. For more than 2,000 years, Leonidas of Rhodes held the record and could rest pretty easy knowing that no one would ever come close. And then a kid from Baltimore learned to swim. Tied with Leonidas with 12 Olympic titles, Phelps will have a chance to break the record on Thursday when he swims the 200 individual medley race. Phelps has a total of 21 Olympic gold medals, but nine have come in relays. There were no relays in Leonidas’s day — nor was there competitive swimming — so it’s impossible to know his true Olympic potential. Historians suggest he was pretty good. While Phelps’s gold-medal haul includes titles in five different individual events, Leonidas was a champion in three. And he won all three races at four straight Olympic Games. And he did it in the nude.

OLYMPIC TV ADVERTISERS NOT GETTING BANG FOR THEIR BUCKS via Bob Sparks of Florida Politics – Over the first few days of Olympic coverage, ratings are not what they should be. In fact, they were down to 1992 levels until they began an upswing Monday. Beginning with the mediocre opening ceremony Friday, the Olympics were more than three ratings points below the London games in 2012. In real numbers this translates to a whopping 34 percent decrease from four years ago. A ratings point is 1 percent of U.S. homes with televisions. Lord knows NBC tried to do right by the advertisers, if not the viewers. During those opening ceremonies, five commercial breaks dotted the first half-hour of coverage. Some of the wags out there renamed the network as “Nothing But Commercials.” Things perked up beginning Monday with ratings climbing back to levels promised advertisers. The huge news from men’s and women’s swimming, the women’s gymnasts, and women’s beach volleyball had something to do with that. According to the Los Angeles Times, advertisers have shelled out $1.2 billion for the privilege of hawking their wares. While Lilly King was taking down the drug-tainted Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova in the 100-meter breaststroke, GEICO was taking on Progressive Insurance in between races. The heroics of Michael Phelps paused to allow Lionel Ritchie and Peyton Manning extoll the virtues of DirecTV.

TWEET SHOT:

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TWEET CHASER: @GrayRohrer: No one in Florida is allowed to make fun of this

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IN FLORIDA, DONALD TRUMP ACCUSES BARACK OBAMA OF ‘BEING THE FOUNDER OF ISIS’ via Josh Lederman of the Associated Press – Trump is now accusing President Obama of founding the Islamic State group that is wreaking havoc from the Middle East to European cities. “In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama,” Trump said Wednesday during a raucous campaign rally outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “He is the founder of ISIS.” He repeated the allegation three more times for emphasis.

The Republican presidential nominee in the past has accused his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, of founding the militant group. As he shifted the blame to Obama on Wednesday, he said “crooked Hillary Clinton” was actually the group’s co-founder. The White House declined to comment on Trump’s accusation.

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Trump lobbed the allegation midway through his rally at a sports arena, where riled-up supporters shouted obscenities about Clinton and joined in unison to shout “lock her up.” He railed against the fact that the Orlando shooter’s father, Seddique Mateen, was spotted in the crowd behind Clinton during a Monday rally in Florida, adding, “Of course he likes Hillary Clinton.”

Sitting behind Trump at his rally on Wednesday was former Rep. Mark Foley who resigned in 2006 after allegations he sent sexually suggestive messages to former House pages.

SECRET SERVICE SPOKE TO TRUMP CAMPAIGN ABOUT 2ND AMENDMENT COMMENT via CNN – A US Secret Service official confirms to CNN that the USSS has spoken to the Trump campaign regarding his Second Amendment comments. “There has been more than one conversation” on the topic, the official told CNN. But it’s unclear at what level in the campaign structure the conversations occurred. The campaign told the USSS that Donald Trump did not intend to incite violence, according to the official. “No such meeting or conversation ever happened,” Trump tweeted in response to CNN’s report.

MEANWHILE … A MAN TRIED TO SCALE TRUMP TOWER:

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RNC SUFFERS SPATE OF TRUMP -RELATED DEPARTURES via Daniel Lippman of POLITICO – For some young staff members, the party’s embrace of its nominee is a ‘deal breaker’ … In recent months, deputy press secretary James Hewitt, spokesman Fred Brown, director of Hispanic media Ruth Guerra, and research analysts Lars Trautman and Colin Spence have all left the RNC with Trump as one of the reasons for their resignations, according to sources familiar with their decisions. At least three other staff members have also left the RNC with opposition to Trump as a contributing factor, according to multiple sources. In total, at least 11 staffers have left the RNC since March, although not all of the departures were related to Trump. … “I didn’t want to be associated with the Trump campaign,” said one [former employee], calling the Trump nomination a “deal breaker” for him. “He’s not a person I feel comfortable working for. It’s just that simple.” … Asked about the mood in the RNC, [Sean Spicer said:] “Everyone is excited to win.”

NEW EMAILS RAISE HILLARY CLINTON CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST QUESTIONS via CNN – Newly released emails from Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state raise questions about the nature of the department’s relationship with the Clinton Foundation. Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, released 296 pages of emails from the Democratic presidential nominee, including 44 that Judicial Watch says were not previously handed over to the State Department by Clinton. The emails, many of which are heavily redacted, raise questions about the Clinton Foundation’s influence on the State Department and its relations during her tenure.

In one instance, top Clinton Foundation official Doug Band lobbied Clinton aides for a job for someone else in the State Department. In the email, Band tells Clinton’s former aides at the department — Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin — that it is “important to take care of (redacted).” Band is reassured by Abedin that “Personnel has been sending him options.”clinton2

CLINTON DISAVOWS SUPPORT ORLANDO GUNMAN’S FATHER WHO ATTENDED HER RALLY via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Though he had a prime seat at her Monday rally in Kissimmee and made a banner that sums up some of her key positions, Clinton is disavowing the support of Seddique Mateen, the father of the St. Lucie County-grown jihadist who killed 49 people in Orlando in June. “She disagrees with his views and disavows his support,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement released late Tuesday.

CHER TO HEADLINE MIAMI BEACH FUNDRAISER FOR CLINTON via Marc Caputo of POLITICO – Cher is headlining a Miami Beach fundraiser for Clinton next week, marking the second LGBT-related event the star is holding for the Democrat. As invitations to the Aug. 19 fundraiser begin hitting email boxes on Thursday, Trump will be meeting in Orlando with a group of conservative Christian pastors who have criticized the gay rights movement. For Clinton’s backers, the contrast between Cher’s fundraiser and Trump’s private meeting with the 700 religious leaders of the American Renewal Project provides the perfect opportunity to question Trump’s commitment to gay rights after he promised to respect the “the LGBTQ community” at the Republican National Convention last month.

HAPPENING TODAY — TAMPA BUSINESSWOMEN DISCUSS CLINTON’S JOBS PLAN — Several Tampa area business women, including former CFO Alex Sink; Dr. Erika Bethune, owner of Hands 4 Healing Chiropractic; Maryann Ferenc, owner of Mise en Place restaurant, and Amy Mandel, owner of Naturally Green Products, will host a discussion about Clinton’s 100-Day Jobs Plan and its impact on Florida. The discussion is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. at Mise en Place Grand Central Place, 442 Kennedy Blvd., #110 in Tampa. Media interested in attending the event should RSVP to Brittany Caplin at bcaplin@hillaryclinton.com.

REPORT: ORLANDO NUMBER 1 SPOT FOR PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ADS via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – The Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne TV market ranked No. 1 in the entire nation in ad spending for the presidential race, with $8.1 million in ads from campaigns and PACs. Ranked second? The nearby Tampa-St. Pete-Sarasota market with $7.6 million in ads. West Palm Beach came in at No. 8 with $3.4 million. While Donald Trump‘s campaign has yet to run ads, a PAC supporting Hillary Clinton, Priorities USA, has been running ads in Orlando since May, according to FCC reports. They kicked off their ad buy with a $230,000 blitz on five local stations, including Fox 35, CW 18, WESH 2, WBRW My65 and WKMG 6. Priorities USA Action was also quick to secure ad time for later in the summer. The Hillary Clinton campaign itself has also purchased ad time with several Orlando stations, with an ad showing Trump acknowledging to David Letterman that products on his clothes line were made overseas being released earlier this month. An anti-Clinton PAC, Rebuilding America Now, has also been running ads in Florida including one criticizing the Clintons as “More of the Same.”

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RICK SCOTT: PEOPLE COULD ‘PLAY GAMES’ IN ELECTION via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – Scott refused to say if he disagrees with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that the election could be rigged. Instead, Scott suggested that people could “try to play games” in the upcoming election in Florida, which decided the chaotic presidential election 16 years ago and could once again play a pivotal role in the outcome because of its 29 electoral votes. “Actually, my goal and I’ve answered this before, is 100 hundred percent participation and zero percent fraud,” Scott said. “We know there’s people that, you know, want to play games. But my job is to help Donald Trump have a big enough win that there’s no question.” When asked if he had confidence in the elections system, Scott replied: “I know the supervisors and the secretary of state, they want to do a good job. Look, there’s always people out there trying to play games.” When asked what he meant about “games,” Scott cited cases that he’s reviewed on the state’s clemency board in which people were able to vote despite being convicted felons. Florida is one of the few states that require former inmates to ask to have their voting rights restored. Trump last week said in an appearance that the election may be “rigged,” and some of his supporters have echoed that sentiment.

FRESH Q-POLL: FLORIDA U.S. SENATE RACE TOO CLOSE TO CALL via Florida Politics – A new Quinnipiac University poll of likely Florida voters found the race was too close to call, with 45 percent of respondents backing Rubio, while 45 percent picked Murphy. Just 7 percent of voters said they didn’t know who they would support. Rubio received strong support from voters who identified as independent voters. The poll found 51 percent of independent voters said they would vote for Rubio, while 41 percent picked Murphy. The Miami Republican also leads among white voters, with 53 percent saying they would vote for Rubio. The survey found Murphy leads among non-white voters, 57 percent to 37 percent. When it comes to female voters, 52 percent said they would back Murphy compared to 39 percent who picked Rubio.

Rubio would defeat Grayson 49 percent to 43 percent, according to the Quinnipiac University poll. In that match-up, Rubio would receive support from 49 percent of independent voters and 57 percent of white voters. In a match-up between Murphy and Beruff, the Treasure Coast Democrat would come out on top with 48 percent support to Beruff’s 34 percent. The Manatee County Republican would also fall short in a match-up with Grayson. The poll found Grayson would top Beruff 43 percent to 39 percent.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Alan Grayson will hold a town hall at 6:30 p.m. at the Seminole Heights Library, 4711 N. Central Avenue in Tampa. Grayson, who is running for U.S. Senate, is expected to talk about gun reform, the economy and other topics.

RENEWABLE ENERGY BALLOT INITIATIVE WINS 3 MORE NEWSPAPER ENDORSEMENTS via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Supporters of an energy tax break that will appear on the Aug. 30 primary ballot scored three newspaper endorsements this week, which add to a string of others from earlier weeks. Amendment 4 would extend from residential to commercial a property tax break for renewable energy source devices. The measure, placed on the ballot by the Legislature, has support from business and environmental groups and faces little opposition. “Despite having the greatest potential for solar energy of any state east of the Mississippi, Florida still trails others with better policies to promote clean power from the sun,” the Orlando Sentinel wrote … “Florida needs to catch up and diversify its energy sources.” The Ledger in Lakeland wrote that Florida’s current standing in solar energy “is beyond baffling” and that Amendment 4 “should be an easy call for voters.” … the Miami Herald wrote that the ballot measure would add to 6,500 solar jobs currently in the state while lowering solar consumers’ energy costs.

MATT GAETZ FIRES BACK AT HUFFINGTON POST via Thomas St. Meyer of the Pensacola News-Journal  – Congressional candidate Gaetz fired back at the Huffington Post and some of his Republican primary challengers in a phone conversation with the News Journal. The Huffington Post reported over the weekend that two defunct super Political Action Committees formerly chaired by State Rep. Gaetz contributed about $380,000 to another Super PAC that is supporting his campaign. Gaetz stepped down as chairman of two statewide PACs – Economic Freedom Foundation and Free Enterprise Fund – three days before announcing his intention to run for congressional office. Gaetz originally planned to run for the state Senate seat occupied by his retiring father, Don Gaetz.

HAPPENING FRIDAYKen Sukhia is holding a fundraiser in his bid for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. Event begins 6 p.m. at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum, 6800 Mahan Drive in Tallahassee.

JOHN RUTHERFORD HOLDS LEAD IN NEW FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 4 POLL – A new poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the University of North Florida in partnership with WJXT Channel 4 of likely Republican voters in Congressional District 4 shows that former Jacksonville Sherriff Rutherford leads the race with 30.8 percent, Hans Tanzler is in second place with 12.7 percent and State Rep. Lake Ray carries third place with 9.5 percent. St. Johns County Commissioner Bill McClure holds fourth with 4.7 percent, Ed Malingarnered 2.5 percent, Stephen Kaufman 1.5 percent and Deborah Katz Pueschel 0.7 percent. “There is very little change from the poll last month and there is still a great deal of uncertainty in this primary,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director. “Nassau and St. Johns counties have almost 10 percentage points higher of ‘don’t know’ responses, which isn’t surprising since six of the seven candidates have roots in Duval County … Rutherford has maintained his lead even as the media campaign has heated up,” Binder continued. “The support for both Tanzler and Ray is relatively unchanged from last month, despite the potential of so many undecided voters. McClure has greater support in his home county of St. Johns than in the other counties in the district.”

STILL NO WORD ON WHETHER CORRINE BROWN OWES REDISTRICTING PLAINTIFFS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The winners of the congressional redistricting case are still waiting on a federal court to decide if U.S. Rep. Brown should pay their bills. Lisa Hall, spokeswoman for the plaintiffs, said “there has been no ruling … so our fee motions remain pending.” In May, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and others had filed a motion against the Democratic North Florida congresswoman after she unsuccessfully challenged them in federal court. She had argued that the state’s new congressional districts, ordered redrawn by the state Supreme Court, violated federal voting-rights law. A panel of federal judges said Brown had “not proven (her) case.” The plaintiffs tacked on a “bill of costs” of $23,600 for the consultants they used, adding “expert witness fees” to their previous demand for an “award of attorneys’ fees,” now estimated at $220,000. They want a federal judge to “assess attorneys’ and expert fees against Congresswoman Brown because her (Voting Rights Act) and constitutional claims were frivolous, unreasonable or without foundation,” their motion says.

BROWN CHANGING LAWYERS; PREPARATIONS FOR FRAUD TRIAL PUSHED BACK via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union – Tampa-based defense attorney Greg Kehoe told [Judge] Klindt he was still working out details about replacing her previous counsel, Bill Sheppard and his firm. Kehoe didn’t elaborate, saying ‘there are just certain things that have to be addressed internally.

BLOOMBERG PAC BACKS VAL DEMINGS WITH TV AD via Orlando Sentinel — Former Orlando police Chief Val Demings campaign is getting an advertising boost from a political committee launched by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Independence USA PAC announced its endorsement Wednesday and began airing a TV ad on local broadcast and cable stations. The ad features footage of Demings’ remarks at the Democratic National Convention, followed by narration: “Val Demings, bringing police and communities together to fight gun violence and reduce crime, mentoring and educating our children, keeping them safe. Val Demings for Congress: putting Central Florida families first.”

CD 15 DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE JIM LANGE FINDS IT ROUGH GOING IN TRYING TO DEFEAT AN ENTRENCHED INCUMBENT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Lutz business consultant Lange is learning the hard way why incumbent members of the House of Representatives get elected on average more than 96 percent of the time. The first-time Democratic candidate is challenging three-term incumbent Republican Dennis Ross in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, and he’s not doing all that great right now. “Overwhelmed,” “frustrating,” and “humbling” are some of the words he uses to describe life on the campaign trail as an unknown challenger with limited campaign funds against a well-known incumbent … Lange is feeling extremely humbled about his prospects. As he began the campaign, he says he thought he could do a “forensic audit” to investigate why two previous Democrats – Lori Edwards in 2010 and Alan Cohn in 2014 – came up short against Ross in the district. He also said he wanted to assess the Democratic Party. And his verdict? What he said he found out is that there is no Democratic Party. “There is a collection of Democrats, and organizations, but as far as an orchestrated institution, I found that what I thought would exist for me, it just doesn’t exist for me, or really for the average candidate,” he said. “There’s no bench. They don’t groom you. A lot of those things have been frustrating to me, and humbling, because I maybe thought more of myself than I should have.”

— “Meet April Freeman, Democrat running for Florida’s 17th Congressional District” via Florida politics

DCCC MEMO CITES CARLOS CURBELO AMONG TRUMP AFFECTED GOP INCUMBENTS via Heather Caygle of POLITICO Florida – Clinton is posting double-digit leads in several vulnerable Republican districts including … Florida Rep. Curbelo … the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee memo states. “Donald Trump‘s likely defeat in many swing districts will be a devastating anchor that drags down House Republicans all across the country,” wrote DCCC Executive Director Kelly Ward. The memo, which comes 90 days out from the election, says that Democrats intend to hitch their House opponents to Trump at every turn and misstep, including his suggestion that “Second Amendment people” might stop Clinton if she’s elected. “For the next 90 days, Donald Trump will undoubtedly continue these types of antics – just yesterday he suggested a violent attack against Hillary Clinton – and House Republicans will be forced to deal with the fallout. Their problems are only going to get worse,” Ward wrote.

IN VOICEMAIL, DOUG BROXSON WARNS MIKE HILL OF SPECIAL INTEREST ONSLAUGHT via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Broxson has a sharp-elbowed warning for state Senate primary opponent Hill: stop running negative ads or you’ll be buried by Tallahassee special interest cash. That was the message he sent to his House colleague Hill in a voicemail … Broxson, who has represented a district that covers parts of Okaloosa County and Santa Rosa County since 2012, said that outside groups supporting his campaign have told him that they are prepared to give him an “unlimited amount of support” if Hill does not stop running negative ads or if he uses personal funds to give his campaign a late boost headed into the Aug. 30 primary. “They have indicated to me what they have done is just, frankly, a token of what they are willing to do if things get out of control,” Broxson said in the message … “So hopefully we are going to be in a position to pull back on some of this at some point, but right now I think it is just going to continue.”

RITCH WORKMAN’S WIFE, EX-WIFE SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT IN NEW AD via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — The Melbourne Republican tweeted out a 30-second spot Wednesday that featured his wife, Terri Workman, and his ex-wife, Tiffanie Lande. In the advertisement, the two women say they are disappointed with the negative tone of the campaign. “Ritch may not be a perfect man, but Debbie Mayfield’s dishonest attacks are outright lies or distortions of the truth. So we’re here to set the record straight,” says Terri Workman. Lande continues by saying: “Ritch and I used to consider Debbie and her husband Bob to be good friends. We introduced Debbie to Bob, even vacationed together. It’s sad that people I held in such high regard would stoop so low for the sake of politics.”

JIM WALDMAN TAKES A SWING AT GARY FARMER IN NEW AD via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – In the 30-second spot, Waldman says he is “sick of the fast-talking lobbyists” … “Fast-talking Farmer is really a big shot lobbyist who bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect Rick Scott and right-wing Republicans,” a female announcer says in the ad, before Waldman appears on the screen. “I’m sick of the fast-talking lobbyists,” says Waldman. “I’m a strong Democrat who opposed Rick Scott.” Waldman and Farmer are set to face off in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary, and the two men been locked into a war of words for weeks now. Democrat Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed is also running in Senate District 34. In July, Farmer’s campaign claimed Waldman at one point received an A rating from the NRA. Waldman said he never received the rating, something Marion Hammer, the former president of the NRA and executive director of United Sportsmen of Florida, confirmed … In an email to supporters, Waldman said he is “proud to be the true progressive in the race.”

MICHAEL STEINGER: INVESTIGATE MAIL-IN BALLOTS IN STATE SENATE DISTRICT 30 RACE via Eliot Kleinberg of the Palm Beach Post – Steinger, who faces State Rep. Bobby Powell in State Senate District 30, wrote Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher … Steinger noted reports over the weekend that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement had joined Bucher and Aronberg in looking into ballots coming from areas where people would be voting in two races: Palm Beach County Commission District 7 and State House District 88 … Palm Beach County elections officials did receive mail-in ballot requests in county commission and state House race areas whose signatures don’t appear to match those on file. Steinger said, “I have clear reason to believe that a similar activity is going on” in areas associated with his race, which in many cases overlap the other two races.

ERIC LYNN STAYING POSITIVE IN NEW AD — The advertisement focuses on what Lynn would do to support public education. In the spot, his second in the House District 68 race, Lynn says he would “fight education funding cuts, increase teacher pay and work to hire more specialists in our schools.” The campaign released advertisement just hours after Democrat Ben Diamond criticized Lynn for failing to refund contributors to his congressional campaign. The Lynn camp fired back, with a spokesman saying they hoped to “keep this campaign positive for Democrats … Eric is going to continue to focus on issues like the economy, education and women’s health, regardless of whether his opponent wants to use his Tallahassee tactics to sling mud at him and families here in St. Pete.”

BEN DIAMOND BLASTS LYNN FOR NOT RETURNING CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS FOR HIS PREVIOUS RUN FOR OFFICE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Lynn left the congressional race when his chances continued to look gloomy against the much-better-known Charlie Crist. Lynn then shifted the more than $700,000 he had raised to run for Congress over to a political committee created for his run for the state Legislature. Lynn said at the time that he had worked with officials in Tallahassee to make sure that everything he had done was legal. But citing a state statute, Diamond says Lynn should have made an attempt to notify his donors, once he opted out of his race for Congress. “He said he would, but he never did,” Diamond says. “That’s not transparent. That’s the ‘Washington Way.’” Lynn did not immediately contact those who contributed to his congressional campaign about a refund. After Alex Sink had complained he hadn’t responded to her request for a refund, Lynn told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board that he “can count on one hand the number of people who asked for their contributions back, and we sent them back.” Diamond also repeated the charge … that Lynn’s campaign has been making “negative polling calls smearing my years of work for Pinellas County.”

JOE GRUTERS SAYS MAILER CALLING HIS CHILDREN A DISTRACTION SHOULD DISQUALIFY HD 73 OPPONENT via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Gruters is demanding an apology after his House District 73 opponent — Lakewood Ranch Republican Steve Vernon — sent a mailer that, among other things, said Gruters’ three young children would be a distraction. The mailer said Gruters will “have a new business, multiple political appointments and two volunteer positions of authority with the Republican Party, and is the father of three babies that will distract him from representing the district.” Gruters said he believes the mailer was sent to voters in Manatee County, which makes up about 85 percent of the district. “I just think it’s sad and I think he should apologize,” said Gruters in an interview. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’re running for. And for him to say having babies is a distraction is so off base and disqualifying.” The House District 73 race has become increasingly nasty as the Aug. 30 primary nears. Vernon has been hitting Gruters for his connections to the Republican Party, calling him a career politician and a party boss.

ENDORSEMENT WATCH:

Bob Poe, running for Florida’s 10th Congressional District, has been endorsed by the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida.

Francis Rooney, running for Florida’s 19th Congressional District, has been endorsed by the National Association of Realtors.

Ed Narain, running for Florida Senate District 19, has been endorsed by the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) PAC.

GEORGE SOROS -RELATED PAC SPENDING BIG TO ELECT ARAMIS AYALA AS STATE ATTORNEY via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Florida Safety & Justice, which shares the “Safety & Justice” name and its chairwoman, Whitney Tymas, with other Soros-funded political committees, has made the TV purchases on several Orlando television stations and cable outlets. Soros, chairman of the Soros Fund Management in New York and reported by Forbes as being worth $23 billion, is a huge Democratic provider of money to PACs and other dark money interests. Safety & Justice has purchased at least $152,745 in TV commercials on WESH-TV (NBC Channel 2) and another $94,000 on WFTV (ABC Channel 9.) Other paperwork has been filed at other Orlando TV stations to place commercials, including at WKMG (CBS Channel 6) and WOFL (Fox Channel 35, but ad buy reports have not yet been posted by the FCC. Ayala is trying to unseat incumbent State Attorney Jeff Ashton. Both are Democrats, so the showdown will be the Aug. 30 primary … Ayala, a former assistant state attorney under Ashton, is African-American, and would be the first black state attorney in Florida’s known history if she wins election.

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WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING – REPORT: FLORIDA TRAILED ONLY CALIFORNIA IN ADDING PRIVATE JOBS LAST MONTH via Jeff Harrington of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida added a relatively strong 16,400 private-sector jobs last month, indicating it continues to outpace much of the country’s economic growth …  Only California (up 27,900 jobs) outperformed Florida, the ADP Regional Employment Report said. The Sunshine State improved slightly from June with the majority of jobs, as is typical, in the service-producing sector. Payroll processor ADP, working with Moody’s Analytics, bases its estimates on worker payroll data. Unlike the monthly jobs reports from the U.S. Labor Department, it does not include government jobs added or lost. However, it is widely viewed as a harbinger of the Labor Department’s report, which is based on household and employer surveys. The government’s figures for July will be released Aug. 19.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. at Granite Telecommunications, 3504 Lake Lynda Drive, Suite 210, in Orlando to announce new jobs.

TOP EMPLOYEES AT FLORIDA TEACHERS UNION RAKE IN SIX-FIGURE SALARIES via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – A recent Florida Watchdog story highlighted some of the top salaries for the FEA, which is composed of nearly 130,000 members statewide … membership fees added up to big money for the FEA — the group collected over $24 million from 2014-2015 dues and mandatory fees. The union then uses part of that money to pay over 110 staff members, nearly half of whom collect a handsome six-figure salary for their work with the union. The U.S. Department of Labor reported over 40 of FEA’s top staffers made an average of $131,000 a year. Top staffer salaries amounted to nearly $5.6 million. The average teacher salary in Florida is a little over $48,000, but that number can be larger or smaller depending on the district. Some teachers make as little as $33,000 per year. Top salaries at the FEA dwarf those numbers, some almost eight times the salary of teachers in certain Florida counties. Former FEA president Andy Ford made the most money of all staffers, raking in a $235,000 annual salary. Ford retired in 2015 after leading the organization for 12 years. Vice President Joanne McCall (who was elected president shortly after Ford’s retirement) earned the second-highest salary at $217,000. McCall formerly worked as a speech pathologist before joining the FEA. The union routinely dumps money into the Florida Democratic Party.

APOLOGIES for missing Josh Karp‘s birthday yesterday. I forgot his big day just like he “forgets” to include our staff on press releases from the Patrick Murphy campaign.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to Chris Hart IV and to The Mayor of Mayors, Matt Surrency.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.

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