Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.
What social media gives, it can take away.
Self-proclaimed anarchist Cara Jennings became a viral video star Wednesday after a clip of her accosting Gov. Rick Scott in a Gainesville Starbucks the day before made the Internet rounds.
“You cut Medicaid so I couldn’t get Obamacare,” yells Jennings, a former Lake Worth city commissioner. “You’re an a–hole. You don’t care about working people. You should be ashamed to show your face around here.”
Judging from a Facebook topic search, many applauded her dressing down of the governor, while others took her to task.
“Kudos to Cara Jennings!” wrote Trudi Newbury of Canada. “These people *should* be held to account for the harm they’ve inflicted from their position of power. And when everything else isn’t working, standing up in public is the right thing to do.
“I’m grateful to Cara, and I wish I’d been there to support her,” she said.
Susan Mary Laughlin Elwell of Coral Gables posted, “As a Christian, as an Episcopalian, in our regular prayers we are called to lift our elected leaders in prayer, whether we like them, agree with them, or want them gone. Today, my secret fantasy was realized by one brave woman in Starbucks.
“Although I think our Florida Governor is a (first) class FINK, I pray that some day he’ll have an epiphany moment,” she added. “After all, St. Paul did … Thank you Starbucks lady!”
But Sandra Haas of McAlpin called Jennings an “entitled brat sitting in Starbucks with a laptop using free wifi.”
“This governor grew up poor, learned to work for a living and made millions with his own companies,” she wrote. “He is, first and foremost, a businessman who runs this state like a business.”
Medicaid expansion, she wrote, “would have cost the taxpaying citizens of Florida. Wake up you crazy folks who think this kind of behavior is OK. The man deserves respect and the opportunity to buy a cup of coffee without some idiot attacking him.”
Even veteran Tallahassee Democrat correspondent Bill Cotterell called Jennings a “loud-mouthed boor.”
“It’s not the content of her remarks that matters,” he said. “You don’t scream at people in public places unless they pose an imminent threat to you. It doesn’t matter if the person is an elected official, spouse or someone who cut in line—you don’t inflict your fury on everyone around you.
“Freedom of speech presumes civil discourse,” Cotterell said. “When it becomes disorderly conduct, don’t complain when it happens to your side, next time.”
Undaunted, Scott got back to work Wednesday. He pumped out another 20 approved bills from the 2016 Legislative Session, including one that deletes a law, after 148 years on the books in Florida, that made it a crime for unmarried couples to live together.
Hey Cara, maybe he’s not so much of an “a–hole” after all?
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RICK SCOTT RESPONDS TO VIRAL VIDEO: ‘SHE WAS NOT SOMEONE YOU COULD TALK TO’ via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post – Scott responded to a viral video where a former Lake Worth city commissioner yells at Scott, calls him a profane name and rushes him out of a Starbucks. The video was filmed at one of the coffee chain’s Gainesville locations and features activist Cara Jennings telling Scott, “You cut Medicaid, so I couldn’t get Obamacare.” Scott at one point can be heard replying to Jennings, saying he has created 1 million jobs in the state… Scott said he hadn’t seen the video. When asked why he didn’t try to talk more with Jennings, Scott said, “She was not someone you could talk to.” Jennings… was angry at Scott for signing into a law a controversial abortion bill.“I am pro-life. I believe in the sanctity of life,” Scott said. He then said lawmakers have more than $5 million in the state budget for health prevention services.
WITH SCOTT’S BLESSING, “SHACKING UP” NOW LEGAL IN FLORIDA via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Scott has approved a repeal of a 148-year-law that criminalizes an unmarried couple living together … legalizing “cohabitation” (SB 498) was one of 20 bills signed into law by the governor. The change is largely a reflection of the times: Though Florida was among a few states that still criminalized cohabitation, its prohibition was essentially unenforced. Other bills OK’d by the governor establish a Florida Holocaust Memorial on the grounds of the Capitol, allow All Aboard Florida to sell beer at its train stations, and offer discounts on park entrance fees to surviving family of military service members and first responders who die in the line of duty.
SCOTT SIGNS SINKHOLE INSURANCE COVERAGE BILL INTO LAW via POLITICO Florida’s Christine Sexton — Bills that affect both homeowners insurance and health insurance policies were among the 20 pieces of legislation that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Wednesday. One, SB 1274, allows the sale of limited sinkhole coverage for homeowners and requires the insurance companies that want to sell such policies to have a $7.5 million surplus requirement. Insurance companies can sell sinkhole coverage that does not cover homes’ contents or additional living expenses.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a ceremonial bill signing at 10:30 a.m. (CST) at the National Guard Armory, 8790 Grow Drive in Pensacola. In addition to signing SB 222 and HB 7023, Scott will honor Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award.
SCOTT AND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH MEET WITH FLORIDA MOSQUITO CONTROL DISTRICTS ON ZIKA VIRUS PREPAREDNESS – Scott and Acting State Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip hosted a conference call with Florida Mosquito Control Districts to discuss ongoing preparations to fight the possible spread of the Zika virus in Florida. “Florida’s Mosquito Control Districts are on the front lines of protecting our communities from mosquito-borne diseases like the Zika virus,” Scott said in a statement. “As we approach the summer season, it is important that we maintain an open line of communication with mosquito control districts so our state is prepared for the possible spread of the Zika virus.” Philip added that “diligence and collaboration are key to controlling the spread of these diseases,” similar to what actions the department took in the past with dengue and chikungunya outbreaks.
FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via FloridaHealth.gov – As of Wednesday, two new cases were reported – one in Miami-Dade and one in Palm Beach County. Six cases in the state continue to exhibit symptoms. All are travel-associated, with no locally-acquired cases of Zika in Florida. Florida has 80 confirmed cases of Zika – the most of any state; 312 cases of Zika have been confirmed in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. Based on CDC guidelines, several pregnant women who have traveled to countries with local-transmission of Zika have received antibody testing, and of those, five have tested positive for the Zika virus in Florida. The Obama administration also announced it will use existing funds for the “Zika Response and Safety Act” (HR 4446), co-sponsored U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in February. The bill allows government agencies to use Ebola funding previously appropriated by Congress to prevent further outbreaks of the Zika virus. Buchanan announced that the CDC declared its emergency operations center has been put on a “Level 1” status – its highest level of activation – as a result of the Zika outbreak. The CDC has only put its operations center at Level 1 three times in the past: during the Ebola outbreak in 2014; during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009; and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. People with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis, according to the World Health Organization. Zika has been linked to thousands of infants born with microcephaly, which is a rare neurological condition resulting in a smaller than normal head due to an abnormally developed brain.
BILL NELSON: ZIKA FUNDING ISN’T ENOUGH via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Nelson praised the Obama administration for freeing up $589 million to fight Zika but said it’s not enough and called on Congress to act. “Florida has more cases of Zika virus than any other state,” Nelson said. “The administration … will redirect more than $500 million to help curb the spread of the virus, but more must be done. Congress needs to pass the president’s request for an additional $1.9 billion to stop this virus before it’s too late.”
STATE’S HIGHEST COURT TALKS TV TAX via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Should satellite-television service be taxed at a higher rate than cable? The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides … Satellite TV companies, including DirecTV, want the court to uphold the 1st District Court of Appeal’s 2-1 decision last year, which said that taxing the two services differently is unconstitutional. The state’s Revenue Department and Florida’s cable TV industry want it overturned. At issue is the state’s communications services tax (CST), which charges “direct-to-home satellite service” at a total rate of 11.44 percent. Cable TV, however, is taxed at 7.44 percent. (The state reduced the CST effective July 1, 2015.) The lower court’s majority ruling held that different tax rates violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause because they tend to benefit in-state cable companies over out-of-state satellite companies. In questions, however, Justice Barbara Pariente noted that “in the end, we’re really talking about the customer that either gets screwed or helped, depending on what goes on here.”
HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL TO BE BUILT AT FLORIDA CAPITOL via the Associated Press — A memorial is going to be built at the Florida Capitol to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Gov. Scott on Wednesday signed a bill into law that calls for a memorial on the grounds of the Florida Capitol complex. Legislators set aside $100,000 in the state budget for the memorial. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat and one of the sponsors of the legislation, said the memorial was needed because the survivors of the Holocaust are dying. He said people need to be reminded of the millions of people who died during World War II at the hands of the Nazis.
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FLORIDA ADDS 18.6K JOBS IN MARCH, 2ND-HIGHEST IN NATION via Florida Politics – The ADP Regional Employment Report shows 16,000 of the new jobs coming to the service sector and 2,600 heading to goods-producing sectors. The gain is a slight dip from February … and lags behind the state’s six-month average, but is an improvement of 4,200 jobs year-over-year. The trade, transportation and utilities industry saw the largest increase in the sector breakdown with a gain of 4,400 jobs in March, followed by natural resources, mining and construction, which added 2,600 jobs. Professional and business services jobs went up by 1,800, and the state added 100 manufacturing jobs to round out the list. Though most of the new jobs were in the lower-paying service industries, Florida’s 100 new manufacturing jobs in March outpaced close competitors Texas and California, which both saw their manufacturing workforce shrink last month.
BOB BUCKHORN PITCHES PAYPAL ON RELOCATING TO TAMPA FROM NORTH CAROLINA via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Can North Carolina’s controversial religious freedom law that critics say discriminates against the LGBT community redound to Tampa’s advantage? That’s what Buckhorn hopes for, after PayPal announced … canceling plans for a new operation center that would have employed over 400 people in Charlotte, North Carolina, citing that new law. “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” wrote Dan Schulman, the President and CEO of PayPal. Buckhorn seized on that announcement, going to Twitter to invite PayPal to bring their global operations center to Tampa: “Tampa is, & always will be, proud of our diverse community. We invite @paypal to open their global ops center here!” … “We celebrate our diversity, it’s a strength, we honor the contributions of everybody. We don’t care (about) the God you worship, or who you love, that’s not important to us,” Buckhorn told WTVT-Fox 13.
SEEKING RESOLUTION TO MASSIVE PENSION DEBT; LENNY CURRY WANTS VOTERS TO WEIGH SALES TAX IN AUGUST via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union – Currywants Jacksonville residents to vote in August on a half-cent sales tax to pay off the city’s massive pension debt, a high-stakes referendum that could offer significant relief to increasingly onerous yearly costs and free up hundreds of millions of dollars in future budgets. Curry’s desire to hold the vote in August — coinciding with Florida’s U.S. Senate primaries — rather than November reveals both the urgency of his efforts and a certain confidence he can sell his plan to voters in five months. “This is a financial crisis and we need to get certainty on solving the unfunded pension liability,” he said. “The earliest date we can go is August … Let’s get on with it.”
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MARCO RUBIO, GOP SENATORS SEEK TO BLOCK PROPOSAL ON IRAN MONEY via Associated Press – Rubio of Florida and Mark Kirk of Illinois introduced legislation on Wednesday that would bar the Treasury from permitting foreign banks to conduct foreign currency trades in U.S. dollars for transactions involving Iran. The bill would expressly forbid Treasury from issuing any license that would allow anyone “to conduct an offshore United States dollar clearing system for transactions involving the government of Iran or an Iranian person” or “provide United States dollars for any offshore United States dollar clearing system conducted or overseen by a foreign government or a foreign financial institution for transactions involving the government of Iran or an Iranian person.” Administration officials have denied they are considering giving Iran direct access to dollars or to the U.S. financial system as part nuclear sanctions relief, but have left open the possibility of easing some rules on the indirect use of dollars for transactions with Iran as long as they did not involve U.S. or Iranian banks.
LA RAZA TO LAUNCH VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE IN FLORIDA via Sergio Bustos of the Associated Press — The nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization is launching a major voter registration drive in the battleground state of Florida that will include door-to-door canvassing and an online app designed to reach millions of potential voters. The Washington-based National Council of La Raza will hold a news conference Thursday morning in Miami to announce its plans.
CARLOS BERUFF HIRES A MARCO RUBIO STAFFER AS PRESS SECRETARY via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Joanna Rodriguez had been serving as Rubio‘s Senate digital director and also has experience at Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC. Next week Rodriguez will be in Florida to handle the press for Beruff, the Manatee County homebuilder and late entrant into the GOP primary who has already begun to advertise.
BERUFF TOUTS WATER MANAGEMENT BOARD WORK DURING STOP AT PINELLAS HISPANIC REPUBLICAN CLUB via Florida Politics – While most of his speech focused on the same topics voters have seen in his campaign ads — his status as a political outsider, his Cuban family’s struggle and eventual attainment of the American dream, and his displeasure with “career politicians” – Beruff also touched on his work with the numerous state boards and commissions he’s appointed to, specifically highlighting his time with the Southwest Florida Water Management board, to which Gov. Charlie Crist first appointed him in 2009, and subsequently reappointed by Scott. “The water management district used to have 918 employees … Now we have 564” … the district used to cost $112 million a year to operate before he came around, “and we outsourced $80 million,” Now … it outsources only $1 million and the cost and recurring expenses ring in at just $68 million. “That’s a $44 million cost savings,” said Beruff. Despite being part of Florida’s bureaucracy — as Beruff is also a governor-appointed member of the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport Authority, the State College of Florida board, and the leader of Scott’s hospital commission — he still believes “bureaucracies are strangling this country,” and cites this as the main reason for his U.S. Senate bid.
U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Republican Todd Wilcox will be in Orlando.
PATRICK MURPHY POUNCES DAY AFTER RELEASE OF ALAN GRAYSON ETHICS REPORT via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Murphy came out swinging … “I believe he has disqualified himself as being a public servant,” Murphy said in a conference call … “Every single claim is documented,” Murphy said of the exhibits released by the committee. “He [Grayson] will continue to be himself to try and bully and bluster his way out of this.” Grayson has called the allegations completely false and politically motivated. He implied Murphy’s congressional staff was in “collusion” with Office of Congressional Ethics staff, and called the second-term congressman “crooked as a three-dollar bill” … Joshua Karp, Murphy’s communications director, said: “Alan Grayson is just wrong. It’s a smear against the independent Office of Congressional Ethics to suggest they leaked to Patrick’s team, and it did not happen … No member of Patrick’s team ever spoke to OCE about their investigation into Alan Grayson.”
NEAL DUNN PUSHING ENVELOPE ON CAMPAIGN FINANCING via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – A watchdog group said the Dunn campaign [for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District] is making a joke of campaign finance rules … Despite a prohibition on coordinating activities among candidate committees and Super PACs, Dunn’s committee and a Super PAC list the same treasurer and legal counsel and registered with the Federal Elections Commission on the same day. “A Super PAC and a campaign certainly are not to be sharing staff. The question is whether the treasurer is staff or not,” said Steven Spaulding, senior policy adviser for Common Cause in Washington, D.C. “The campaign’s activities are in full compliance with FEC laws and regulations. We understand that liberal activists at Common Cause don’t like First Amendment protections for conservative speech, but our campaign takes every step necessary to ensure compliance with federal law,” said Sarah Bascom, a spokeswoman for the Dunn campaign.
MARK FREEMAN RELEASES FIRST TV AD IN CD 18 RACE via YouTube – the 30-second ad focuses on an “keeping America safe and fighting ISIS” … Narrator: “Barack Obama has make America weak, our borders are jeopardized and radical Islam is threatening our security … Who can we trust in Congress to help make us safe again? We can trust retired Lieutenant Commander Dr. Mark Freeman.” Freeman: “Our enemies no longer fear us. As a veteran I know we need a strong military to support our allies, especially Israel. And we must destroy ISIS, no matter what it takes.”
CHUCK O’NEAL BRINGS ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, MORE TO DEMOCRATS’ SD 11 RACE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Apopka resident O’Neal, who has been active on issues ranging from protection of springs and estuaries to opposition to Florida’s bear hunt and oil and gas fracking, to promotion of solar energy, said he sees what he calls a “real void” emerging in the Florida Legislature with the pending departures of two lawmakers he said have championed such issues, Orlando’s Democratic state Sen. Darren Soto and Palm Beach Democratic state Rep. Mark Pafford. “That leaves a real void that needs to be filled by someone. Of course, I hope to be that someone,” he said. “But it is a major concern to me as someone who has been following these issues for years.”
PETER VIVALDI TO RUN FOR SENATE DISTRICT 15 via Jacob Engels of the East Orlando Post – Former congressional candidate Vivaldi will officially become a candidate for State Senate in District 15 … A source close to Vivaldi confirmed that the youth pastor and businessman is finalizing his paperwork … Several members of Central Florida’s legislative delegation and high profile Republican donors have been urging Vivaldi to run for weeks. Vivaldi, who has lived in Central Florida for over 30 years, is of Puerto Rican descent and is extremely popular among the Hispanic evangelical community across the state of Florida.
DANA YOUNG LAUNCHES SENATE BID WITH TAMPA KICKOFF EVENT MAY 3 via Florida Politics – The event will be held at the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. For more information, or to RSVP for the event, contact Sydney Ridley at firstname.lastname@example.org. The House Majority Leader announced she would skip her final term in the House to run for the newly redrawn seat, and is currently the only candidate in the race for the open Hillsborough County seat. The third-term representative entered the Senate contest with about $216,000 in on hand cash from her House campaign.
PROMINENT TAMPA LAWYER DAVID SINGER WILL RUN FOR YOUNG’S HOUSE SEAT via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – Prominent land use lawyer David Singer says he’s filing paperwork to run as a Democrat for the District 60 seat … he’ll make an announcement in the form of an email blast to friends and supporters as soon as he learns his paperwork has been accepted. Singer, 38, co-founder of the Singer & O’Donniley law firm, has never run for office before but has been active in community issues, including directing the Moving Hillsborough Forward transit referendum in 2010. He described himself “a very moderate, pro-business Democrat” and said, “I’m going to knock on a lot of doors and introduce myself to a lot of people.”
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JENNIFER TSCHETTER LEAVES HEALTH DEPARTMENT FOR HOPPING GREEN via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Tschetter, an attorney who was most recently Chief Operating Officer of the Florida Department of Health, is joining Tallahassee’s Hopping Green & Sams law firm to specialize in “health care law matters” … Tschetter leaves the department after state Surgeon General John Armstrong was forced out of his job. The Florida Senate declined to confirm him two years in a row, making him the first state agency head in 20 years to be shown the door. Tschetter will be “of counsel” at the firm, meaning she will work on a case-to-case basis and not as an associate or partner. She brings a trove of government experience, having first spent two years as appellate and rules counsel for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. She then joined the Department of Health, where she was General Counsel before becoming Chief of Staff and finally Chief Operating Officer.
TIM CERIO REJOINING GRAYROBINSON LAW FIRM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Cerio, former general counsel to Scott, is returning to the GrayRobinson law firm … rejoins the firm as a shareholder, will practice “regulatory and health care law; administrative law, including representation of clients in regulatory, administrative and quasi-judicial proceedings; and complex litigation in state and federal courts,” the firm announced. Cerio first went to GrayRobinson in 2001, leaving for two government stints, one as chief of staff and general counsel at the Florida Department of Health 2005-07 and another as Scott’s chief legal adviser, beginning in January 2015.
CONNIE MACK’S NEW CLIENT via Isaac Arnsdorf of POLITICO – Mack, the former Florida congressman who recently left Levick, registered to lobby for DCI Group on behalf of Puerto Rico bondholders. Mack declined to specify which investors, but he previously worked for DCI on behalf of hedge fund BlueMountain Capital Management on its dispute with the island commonwealth. DCI Group is the grassroots/”AstroTurf” specialist that The New York Times said helped coordinate a lobbying campaign purportedly comprising retiree bondholders.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Paul Barber, Richard Morgan: Trinity Highway Products
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Don DeLoach, DDGov Consulting: Smarsh
Berdell Knowles, John Allen Worley Jr.: JEA
Pete Mitchell, PJM Strategies: Walt Disney World
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FLORIDA MAN WITH FLORIDA TATTOO CHARGED WITH BURGLARY via The Associated Press – A Florida man with a tattoo of Florida on his face is facing burglary charges … 25-year-old Johnathan Hewett is jailed without bond. He has a map of Florida tattooed on his left forehead and temple. Hewett is seen on surveillance video prying open the door of a home last month. Officials say he took a gun and two watches. The homeowner identified him as the friend of a former roommate. Detectives say the video clearly shows Hewett’s tattoo spelling “red rum” on his neck … “murder” spelled backward.
GAWKER FILES MOTIONS SEEKING NEW TRIAL IN PRIVACY CASE via The Associated Press – In court filings … lawyers for Gawker Media asked for a new trial or for the amount in damages awarded to former pro wrestler [Hulk Hogan] be vacated or drastically reduced. “Gawker is now beginning the process of challenging the jury’s verdict in a trial where key evidence was wrongly withheld and the jury was not properly instructed on the constitutional standards for newsworthiness,” Gawker wrote in a statement. “So we expect to be fully vindicated. And even if the verdict were to stand, there is no justification for awarding tens of millions of dollars never seen by victims of death and serious injuries.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend, Chris Turner.