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.
4 OF 5 REPUBLICAN U.S. SENATE CANDIDATES SPAR AT FORUM
Several Republican U.S. Senate candidates squared off Thursday night in South Florida in hopes of catching fire in a nationally watched race in which none has risen above the pack.
Each talked more about his experience rather than attacking one another. Yet they did share the same wish in seeing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, along with whoever wins the Democratic Senate nomination, defeated come November.
The forum had been billed as the first to feature all five major Senate GOP candidates on the same stage, but developer Carlos Beruff backed out earlier in the day because of a scheduling conflict.
That left Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, businessman Todd Wilcox and Congressmen David Jolly and Ron DeSantis to make their cases before a large crowd inside a Marriott hotel ballroom in Boca Raton.
Lopez-Cantera described himself as a “Florida Republican and not a Washington, D.C., Republican” because he and Gov. Rick Scott have teamed up to cut taxes, brought millions of jobs to the state and paid down the state debt.
“When we say we are going to do something, we deliver,” Lopez-Cantera said. “It’s not about red-meat rhetoric; it’s about results.”
DeSantis, who has declined his congressional pension, criticized the culture of “crony capitalism” in Washington and pledged to push for term limits for those serving in Congress.
He promised to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law and rid the economy of government regulations and bureaucratic red tape. “Our own government is shooting our economy in the foot,” he said.
Wilcox pitched himself as an outsider who said Washington has too many career politicians and that he would bring his “real world experience” as a former Green Beret, CIA officer and businessman to the Senate.
“I’m the only one with real-world experience,” he said. “I’m running out of frustration, not aspiration.”
He said Washington needs a return to “citizen government” and needs to kick out career politicians by imposing term limits and banning lawmakers for life from becoming lobbyists.
Jolly, a fifth generation Floridian and son of a preacher, spoke of his experience in Congress as a plus, saying Senate candidates must have “a vision for governing – not for rhetoric.”
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DAYS UNTIL: Federal candidate qualifying papers accepted – 3; Federal qualifying closes – 21; State candidate qualifying closes – 21; Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 53; Early voting begins in primaries – 109; Primary elections – 88; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 60; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 130; Absentees sent in General Election – 123; Early voting begins in General Election — 148; General Election – 157.
HILLARY CLINTON LEADS DONALD TRUNP BY 3 IN FLORIDA via Marc Caputo of Politico Florida – Clinton’s 45-42 percent lead over Trump in the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey resembles other recent Florida polls that showed a close race between the two. However, unlike other Florida surveys, Mason-Dixon polled Libertarian Gary Johnson for the first time in the state and found he comes in a distant third, with 6 percent.
CARLOS BERUFF FEELS A NEED TO SPEED via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – And it’s cost him his license before, at least temporarily … Five times over the last six years Beruff, 58, has been ticketed for speeding, including three times when he went at least 23 mph over the posted speed limit. That includes being clocked at 103 miles per hour on Interstate 75, which resulted in a fine of $503 and his license being suspended for 40 days in 2010. “I had a really nice car. You can drive 103 and it not be dangerous,” Beruff said of his Mercedes-Benz S550. “Still, it’s wrong. I get it.” Beruff said he was pulled over in Collier County as he and his son — now 18 — raced from Bradenton to Miami Beach to meet up with his soon-to-be wife two days before their wedding … Beruff said his lawyer told him not to worry about the ticket and everything would be fine … he was more than a little shocked to find out weeks later that his license was suspended for 40 days. In addition, since 2012, Beruff has been flagged for speeding in a school zone in Manatee County and going 15 to 31 mph over the speed limit three other times. His most recent infraction was in June 2014 when he was ticketed for going 76 mph in a 45 mph zone in Manatee County, which resulted in $300 in fines.
TERM LIMITS GROUP SLAMS TODD WILCOX AND BERUFF FOR THEIR STANCE ON THE ISSUE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – U.S. Term Limits, which bills itself as the leader of the grassroots movement to install term limits in Congress, is bashing Wilcox and Beruff for their specific plans on how long a member of Congress can serve in Washington before being term-limited out … the two Republicans term-limit proposals are a “sham designed to win votes” with no benefit at all to the term limits cause. USTL President Philip Blumel says both candidates plan for a 12-year limit in the House of Representatives cannot be implemented, “since the 40 most ardent term limits supporters in Congress have already pledged their exclusive support to a six-year House limit.” Both candidates are calling for limits of 12 years in the Senate, amounting to two six-year terms. However, the two differ on the limits in the House – Wilcox stays with 12 years there, while Beruff is calling for a limit of eight years.
ALAN GRAYSON’S ‘AMBIGUOUS’ DISCLOSURE FORMS BECOME CAMPAIGN FODDER via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Patrick Murphy is hammering his primary opponent for sloppy financial disclosure forms that also caught the notice of congressional ethics investigators. To make its case, Murphy’s camp is pointing to a portion of a lengthy report from the Office of Congressional Ethics that blasted … Grayson for operating hedge funds as a sitting member of Congress. There is an ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation into the matter. The OCE report says Grayson’s murky disclosure forms make it impossible to tell whether he made money from entities covered by the investigation. “The OCE Board notes that in some cases, disclosure entries that were significantly related to other potential violations discussed in this referral were ambiguous or difficult to identify,” read the report. “The use of the term ‘indefinite’ obscures a debt of a few million dollars, and ‘indefinite’ may similarly obfuscate other entries of significant value where no good faith estimate is provided by Representative Grayson’s financial disclosure statements.” The forms fall into the narrative the Murphy camp is trying to write.
CONSERVATIVE GROUP WANTS PATRICK MURPHY TO RESIGN FOR ‘LYING’ ABOUT CREDENTIALS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The Better Florida Alliance … plans to launch an ad campaign — both online and through direct mail — “to inform every single Florida voter about Congressman Murphy‘s academic fraud and résumé padding.” Murphy had exaggerated his academic credentials in recent years by saying he had “dual degrees” from the University of Miami, when he actually earned a single bachelor’s degree with two majors. (His U.S. Senate campaign called the discrepancy an “inadvertent error.”) “Most of us earned our high school diplomas, our trade certifications, our college degrees. Some of us work hard and earn a living without any of those things, we don’t have to lie about it, we just work hard,” Better Florida Alliance spokesman Brian Burgess said in a statement. “That’s why it’s disgusting that Congressman Murphy thinks he can get away with lying about earning college degrees in accounting and finance, and lying about cleaning up the BP oil spill, none of which he actually did.” Murphy campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said the “shady, Republican” Better Florida Alliance “is once again distorting the truth.” “These attacks are simply false,” she said in a campaign statement.
HANS TANZLER WANTS THREE DEBATES, ‘CLEAN CAMPAIGN PLEDGE’ IN CD 4 GOP RACE via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – The debates, writes Tanzler, would happen in each of the three counties in the district. “Northeast Florida voters deserve a substantive and thorough exchange on the issues as well as a principled and honorably-run campaign … Having debates in Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties will give voters that opportunity, and I hope the other candidates in this race will agree to participate.” Tanzler wants everyone in the race to sign a so-called “clean campaign pledge” … “There is too much at stake for us to spend even a moment of this campaign on anything other than the vital issues before us … I’m confident that, whatever other differences may separate us, we can agree that we will conduct honorable campaigns that are a credit to the office we are seeking.”
GUS BILIRAKIS DRAWS 2ND DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGE IN CD 12 via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics – Democrat Robert Tager has filed papers to run for the seat … Tager is an attorney and business owner who has lived in northern Hillsborough County since 1998. He practices law in Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. He is admitted to practice in the federal courts of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida and the 11th Circuit Court. Tager said his varied job and life experiences combined with his education give him a different perspective than Bilirakis, a career politician, who has no vision or experience outside of politics. “We have many challenges as a district, state and country that have been ignored for too long … The national challenges include ending the long wait times for care and disability determination for our Veterans, fixing our costly health care system, creating an economic climate for job creation and growth, tax relief for the rest of us, and many more problems that must be fixed.”
CHARLIE CRIST WARNS OF HURRICANE SEASON, INCLUDES WAY TO DONATE via Jonathan Swan and Lisa Hagen of The Hill – Crist sent an email reminding people that Wednesday was the start of hurricane season. He also included a link to his campaign donation page. “Friend, today marks the first day of the 2016 hurricane season,” Crist wrote … “As our former Governor, I’m no stranger to natural disasters. We have to get ready, and stay ready. Your life — and your family’s — may depend on it.” Underneath Crist’s warning about hurricane season is a link to government advice about what to do when hurricanes strike. The body of the email did not ask for donations, but below Crist’s message is a large red donate button that takes email recipients to a contribution page for Charlie Crist’s campaign. Asked whether the campaign meant to fundraise off hurricane season, Crist’s spokesman Kevin Cate said the donate button is part of “a standard email footer and if we had any indication that The Hill or anyone else would misread the email, it wouldn’t have been there.”
MICHAEL STEINGER GETS OFF TO $400K START IN SD 30 RACE via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Steinger’s campaign account now boasts $400,000 on hand after just 20 days. $211,000 of it came from contributions from some 300 donors, while the remaining $200,000 came from personal funds. Steinger, senior founding partner at the Palm Beach Lakes law firm Steinger, Iscoe, & Greene, said in a statement the substantial haul will allow him to assemble a winning operation despite his late entry. “I feel honored and humbled to have received so much support from the community,” Steinger said. “I believe voters are ready for a change from politics as usual and will connect with our message. I will be a Senator who fights for the residents of Palm Beach County, and will make sure we have effective leadership for our local needs.”
HD 50 CANDIDATE SEAN ASHBY SEEKS INQUIRY OF APRIL 29 ABDUCTION ATTEMPT via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Ashby, a teacher and Democrat … is asking Orange County school officials if student safety protocols were sufficient in a recent investigation of an alleged student abduction attempt. Ashby is raising questions about an April 29 incident which did not become public until almost two weeks later. Hours after the Orange County Sheriff’s Office solicited media help in the investigation May 10, an arrest was made … Ashby has no Democratic opponents in the Aug. 30 primary … Citing his status as a parent, teacher and citizen, Ashby asked the board to investigate why the schools were not immediately made aware “of this potentially life-threatening situation until two weeks after it allegedly occurred.”
SAVE THE DATE: Republican state Reps. Larry Ahern, Kathleen Peters, Jamie Grant, Chris Sprowls and Chris Latvala are holding a joint re-election fundraiser Thursday, June 23, at TopGolf, 10690 Palm River Road in Tampa. Event begins 1 p.m.
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RICK SCOTT GOES ON FOX TO FIGHT ZIKA AND SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP via Arek Sarkissian of Political Fix Florida – Scott took to the airwaves in his latest bid to convince President Barack Obama to provide Florida with money and supplies to fight the Zika virus. Scott again likened his predicted growth of the Zika virus to hurricane season, which officially began Wednesday. “We can’t get behind,” Scott said during his latest appearance on Fox News Your World with Neil Cavuto. “We need to be prepared just like we will for a hurricane … Once it happens it can explode.” Scott riffed off a letter he sent to the White House … asking for supplies and money for Florida to fight the disease. Scott aid in the letter he had discussed the items with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell when he visited Washington, D.C., last month. He left the trip hopeful federal lawmakers would reach a compromise on Zika funding, but nothing has been finalized. Scott was also asked about House Speaker Paul Ryan’s endorsement of … Trump, to which he lauded as another sign of unification. Scott said the Republican Party must come together in order to secure a victory in November. Scott also said Trump will be successful if his campaign takes the same trail he blazed during his first gubernatorial election in 2010 and his re-election in 2014. He will help Trump win the state but the real work will be up to the New York businessman.
FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via FloridaHealth.gov – As of Thursday, there were three new travel-related cases in Florida, with one in Miami-Dade County and two in Broward County. Seven cases are exhibiting symptoms. According to the CDC, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days. There are now 127 total cases in Florida not involving pregnant women; by county (number of cases): Miami-Dade (50), Broward (19), Orange (10), Palm Beach (7), Lee (5), Osceola (5), Alachua (4), Pinellas (4), Brevard (3), Hillsborough (3), Polk (3), Seminole (3), Clay (2), Collier (2), St. Johns (2), Volusia (2) and a single case each in Martin, Pasco and Santa Rosa with 38 cases involving pregnant women.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo will hold a joint news conference to urge their colleagues in Congress to pass funding for the Zika virus when they return to session next week. Media event begins 10 a.m. in Rubio’s office, 8669 NW 36th Street, Suite 110 in Doral.
FLORIDA CHAMBER FOUNDATION LOOKS TOWARD 2030 AT EDUCATION SUMMIT via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Creating a talented workforce involves collaboration from educators, business leaders and the local community … was the message the Florida Chamber Foundation hoped to send during its annual Learners to Earners Education Summit. “This is all about the students,” said Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber Foundation. “All of you can participate. There’s no one that wants Florida to fail, but you can’t sit on the sidelines” … the foundation will use suggestions made during the summit to come up with recommendations for ways to improve educational opportunities for students across the state. Some of those recommendations, he said, will be incorporated into the organization’s Florida 2030 plan. That plan — expected to be released in 2018 — is expected to look at ways to grow the employment and educational opportunities for the next generation. But not all recommendations, he said, are long-term proposals. While it will take time to address infrastructure needs, Carvajal said some suggestions from attendees can be put in place immediately … the need to bring people together at the local level to work on solutions.
FOUNDATION ENCOURAGES BUSINESS, EDUCATION LEADERS TO FOCUS ON TALENT PIPELINE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said talent is “replacing the tax incentive as the economic tool of choice” in Florida. This should encourage business, community and education leaders to prioritize the creation of a talented, homegrown workforce. “We have 1,000 people a day moving to Florida. When employers look at where they’re going to create the next job, they’re looking at the quality of workforce,” said Wilson, who kicked off the 2016 Florida Chamber Foundation’s Learners to Earners Education Summit … “It really comes down to talent.” The 2016 event comes just one week after Gov. Scott held his Degrees to Jobs Summit. While the governor’s event focused primarily on higher education, the Chamber Foundation’s summit is meant to touch on all aspects of education, from early learning to workforce training. “This is a cradle-to-career discussion,” said Tony Carvajal, the executive vice president of the Florida Chamber Foundation, in an interview earlier this week. “It is the entire spectrum.”
APPELLATE COURT APPROVES OF CONTROVERSIAL EVIDENCE STANDARD via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The 4th District Court of Appeal this week affirmed a trial court ruling against plaintiff Simona Bunin … [who] wanted to use an expert to help prove her case that she lost her sense of smell after using Zicam nasal spray, a zinc-based cold remedy … a judge sided with Zicam’s makers and the Publix supermarket chain and said Bunin’s expert’s testimony couldn’t come in at trial. That’s because the state switched to the Daubert standard, which holds expert evidence to a higher scientific bar than the old Frye standard that had been used in Florida. It’s generally considered easier for plaintiffs to get damaging expert testimony before a jury under Frye, and much harder to do so under Daubert, which is seen as more defense-friendly. Bunin appealed, saying the Daubert standard “should not be applied retroactively to her case, which was filed in 2009.”
FIRST IN SUNBURN: NIKKI FRIED OPENS HER OWN SHOP — The lawyer-lobbyist’s new firm is called Igniting Florida and will be based in Fort Lauderdale. Fried, who’s become a go-to person in medical marijuana lobbying, will keep her clients. They include San Felasco Nurseries, the Gainesville-based grower that won an administrative challenge for a medical pot-growing permit. It was issued a license in April. This past session, Fried also helped get a bill passed that expands the state’s Right to Try Act to include medical marijuana. The expansion means terminally ill patients will be able to use medical marijuana during their final days. She also represents health care and insurance concerns, and The Florida Bar.
PERSONNEL NOTE: TIM PARSON TO LIBERTY PARTNERS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The former in-house lobbyist for Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll is leaving state government for the private sector … Parson will be director of government relations for Tallahassee’s Liberty Partners, headed by powerhouse lobbyist Jennifer J. Green. Parson, who’s been legislative affairs director at the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), lobbied the Florida Legislature on issues such as child welfare, human trafficking and public benefit fraud issues. He most recently was executive staff director for Florida’s Drug Policy Advisory Council and director for the Children and Youth Cabinet, according to a press release. He’s also been on legislative staff in both the Florida House of Representatives and Senate.
LOBBYIST LANCE BLOCK CHARGED WITH COCAINE BUY via Florida Politics – … one felony count of buying cocaine … Block, 61, was arrested by Florida State University police. He was released from jail that same day on $10,000 bail. Block’s attorney, Jackie Fulford, filed a not-guilty plea on his behalf.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Curtis Clarke Austin: Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges
Hayden Dempsey, Greenberg Traurig: Amino, Inc.
John Hicks, J.D Hicks & Associates: Hunt Development Group
Brandon Nowac: KeyBank
Robert Shave, Capitol Energy Florida: Audio Visual Innovations
Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: Great Explorations Children’s Museum
Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Dr. Lawrence Miller talks 2016 politics.
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS Miami: Local mayors discuss climate change in Miami and South Florida.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: NPR media critic Eric Deggans, Sarasota Democratic Party Treasurer Rita Ferrandino, Republican consultant Adam Goodman, and political writer Joe Henderson.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: State Senate candidate Linda Stewart on Common Core and her 2016 prospects, Alex Sink and Chris Ingram discuss Muslims in America, and PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a Hillary Clinton claim about several of Donald Trump’s campaign statements. Plus, an update from Tallahassee with reporter Troy Kinsey.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon, Steve Vancore, and Sean Pittman.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and former state Sen. Rod Smith.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Robert Argusa of BusinessForce and political consultant Mark Proctor.