Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — April 16

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

Today’s SachsFact is brought to you by the public affairs, integrated marketing and reputation management experts at Sachs Media Group: Today is the 78th birthday of Jacksonville University, alma mater of such distinguished alums as Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, state Sen. Aaron Bean and ex-Speaker Will Weatherford – as well as former presidential son Jack Ford and NBA legend Artis Gilmore. Despite an enrollment under 4,000, the Dolphins’ home football stadium holds 5,000, where fans watch the defending Pioneer Football League champs coached by former Gator quarterback Kerwin Bell. Thanks to its diverse academic offerings for undergrads to doctoral students, JU is ranked among U.S. News’ top 75 regional colleges in the South.

DAYS UNTIL Sine Die: 16; Special Election in HD 64: 6; Jacksonville’s Mayoral Election: 33; Florida’s Presidential Primary: 333; Florida’s 2016 Primary Election: 502; Florida’s 2016 General Election: 573.

WILL WEATHERFORD NOT RUNNING FOR U.S. SENATE via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Republican former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford quashed speculation he’ll run for U.S. Senate in 2016 as Florida Republicans search for a viable candidate to hold U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s seat.

“My wife and I have an agreement that I will not run for office while we still have children in diapers,” Weatherford, a father of four young children, told his more than 20,000 Twitter followers.

While the Republican Senate picture is unclear, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter has launched a campaign and began April with $1.6 million in cash on hand. Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando is also considering the race.

Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel resident who was term-limited in 2014, had drawn renewed interest after the GOP’s expected front runner, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach, stunned Florida politics-watchers Saturday by announcing he won’t run for Senate.

TWEET, TWEET: @AdamSmithTimes: Always talking about the great bench of candidates for Fla GOP, and yet they can’t seem to find top tier US Sen cand

TWEET, TWEET: @Eric_Jotkoff Wonder if @MikeHaridopolos is dusting off his text book to learn about running for office

TWEET, TWEET: @IrreverentView: No credible GOPer will run 4 @marcorubio “open” Senate seat bec no 1 believes he’ll win pres. nom and will there4 run 4 Senate again



Admit it, Gov. Bush, you are running for president. To continue to insist you’re barely even in the preliminary consideration phase is to start your voyage to the White House dishonestly.

Bush has crisscrossed the country courting Republican activists and donors, raised tens of millions of dollars, resigned from assorted corporate boards, sold his interests in businesses that could pose a conflict of interest, and hired a growing number of campaign professionals. He is poised to open a campaign office in Miami, and campaign advisers are moving to Miami within days.

The former Florida governor is unwilling to call himself a candidate for president … because to do so would trigger campaign finance law restrictions on how he can raise and spend money and how much he can coordinate with leaders of his “Right to Rise” political committee … expected to pull in at least $100 million by the end of March.

Put aside the legitimate questions about how Bush is skirting campaign finance laws — or breaking them, as some experts allege. How about that quaint notion that candidates for America’s highest office ought to tell the truth?

Does anyone actually believe Jeb Bush has not decided he is running for president? Perhaps that was the case in January, as he was just beginning to meet with donors and voters … That no longer holds water, and it hasn’t for a long time.


A new poll published by Public Policy Polling shows Bush and Marco Rubio need to do a lot of work to become competitive in New Hampshire, the site of the first Republican Presidential Primary election next January.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is looking very strong, leading with 24 percent support. That’s 10 percentage points higher than the second-place Republican, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. And what’s most impressive is that Walker was only at 3 percent when PPP surveyed New Hampshire voters back in January.

Rand Paul is third with 12 percent, and Jeb Bush comes in fourth with just 10 percent support. Marco Rubio and Chris Christie follow with 8 percent. Mike Huckabee and Dr. Ben Carson are at 7 percent. Rick Perry is at 4 percent.

But while Rubio would seem to have the potential to grow with the momentum … his Miami-area neighbor, Jeb Bush, appears to be in trouble.

Bush continues to face some early skepticism from conservative voters. His overall favorability spread is only 41/40 among New Hampshire voters, and among voters who identify themselves as “very conservative,” he’s actually on negative ground at 34/45. Only six percent within that group say Bush is their first choice to be the Republican nominee.

GEORGE W. BUSH: JEB HAS A PROBLEM: ‘ME’ via Arthur Allen of Politico

Jeb Bush’s candidacy has a problem, says brother George.


“It’s an easy line to say, ‘Haven’t we had enough Bushes?’ After all, even my mother said, ‘Yes,’” the former president told an audience of 7,000 health IT experts here on Wednesday.

“That’s why you won’t see me out there, and he doesn’t need to defend me, and he’s totally different from me. The role of family is not to be a political adviser or a policy adviser — there are plenty of those around — the role is to say, ‘Hey man, I love you.’

“The president needs people around him who are there to say they want to help. Imagine if instead Laura had been saying to me, ‘What the hell did you get us into this for?’ You’re living in a museum. It’s cold. It’s not your furniture. It’s Jefferson’s furniture.”

The elder Bush said the campaign trail will be grueling — as it should be — but his brother has an edge.

“It’s going to be a hard test for everyone, but it should be. You want to see these candidates under pressure, see them fail and succeed so you have a better idea how they’ll handle the pressures of the job. Jeb has actually run something, called a state. That’s a skill that comes in handy where you’re in charge of a very complex multifaceted organization.”


Bush will pay a visit to the heart of the conservative movement next month when the likely presidential candidate gives a commencement address at Liberty University.

Speaking at Liberty University, founded by evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, is a rite of passage for Republicans seeking the presidency. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas opened his 2016 presidential campaign there last month, Mitt Romney gave a commencement address at the Lynchburg, Va., college in 2012, and Senator John McCain did so as well in 2006.

University officials said on Wednesday that Bush would speak at Liberty’s 42nd commencement on May 9.


Rubio raised $1.25 million online during his first full day as a presidential candidate, a person close to the Florida Republican’s campaign said Wednesday.

The haul is as much as Rubio’s team had hoped to raise online during April, May and June, according to a person close to the campaign. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss campaign’s inner workings.

Rubio’s haul is on par with other presidential hopefuls. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky each raised $1 million online in their first 24 hours.

Rubio’s early fundraising is cash that he can directly control and use to hire staff, air television ads and poll voters in early nominating states. He can only accept $2,700 per donor to help him win the nomination, but most online donors chip in $5 or $10 at a time.

Separately, Rubio allies have started a political organization, Conservative Solutions PAC, ready to raise and spend unlimited cash on his behalf.

RUBIO DEFENDS HIS TAX PLAN AT HERITAGE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

On Tax Day, Marco Rubio and Utah Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Lee appeared at the Heritage Foundation in Washington to discuss their much-hyped tax reform package, called the Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Reform Plan.

The plan calls for collapsing the current rates for individuals from seven to two – at 15 and 35 percent. Lee and Rubio would eliminate head of household filing status, replace the standard deduction and personal exemption with a personal credit of $2,000 ($4,000 for joint filers), expand the child credit to up to $2,500 for some families, and repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax. They’d eliminate most itemized deductions but keep them for mortgage interest and charitable giving.

Investment income from capital gains, dividends, and interest would be tax-free.

Rubio said the plan would cut taxes for more than 90 percent of America; nobody should determine how a plan works based on tax rates alone … it also included deductions that the plan allows “that are quite generous.”

But the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities takes exception to some of their claims. The D.C.-based group says that the child credit, for example, would exclude many working-class poor families. That’s because the new credit is refundable only up to the sum of total income and payroll taxes after applying all other credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the existing Child Tax Credit.

“After these credits, most low-income working families will have no net federal income and payroll tax liability and consequently won’t qualify for the new CTC. In other words, its design excludes most low-income working families,” writes Chuck Marr, director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


The oppression felt by many under the Castro regime still looms large at the epicenter of Cuban America: Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Cuban immigrants in Miami, though, are concerned that if they talk about Obama’s actions, their words could travel back to Havana and cause trouble for their families.

It’s a transformation that makes Rubio’s intense opposition to the Cuba opening a potential obstacle in his presidential pitch to voters who share his background, rather than the surefire crowd-pleaser it has long been.

The senator leaned heavily on the story of his immigrant parents’ exile from Cuba in his presidential announcement on Monday, and he chose Miami’s Freedom Tower, which served as a landing hub for many Cuban exiles through the latter half of the 20th century, for the launch itself.

Though the 43-year-old cast himself as a leader of the future, his focus on reasserting tough sanctions and freezing relations with Cuba is seen by many, especially younger Cuban Americans, as a policy of the past.

And that was the gist of the attack launched by the Democratic National Committee when Rubio condemned Obama’s call for Cuba to be removed from the state sponsors of terrorism list.

“For a guy who just yesterday said he wanted to be a new leader and usher in a new American century, it sure sounds like Marco Rubio is clinging to an outdated foreign policy relic from the Cold War,” said DNC spokesman Mo Elleithee.

Distance and time have transformed the Cuban-American population, and in turn, its politics.


Not to be excluded from the exciting trend of tech companies glomming onto political news events to pitch their products, Google has been faithfully reporting the most common questions its users ask the search engine about the 2016ers after they declare their presidential candidacies. And, America? You are asking some very, very stupid questions.

I pay closer attention to this stuff than most, so I know that Rubio is 43 and was born in Florida (although his family moved to Nevada for a bit). How tall is he? If you Google “how tall Rubio,” you are told that he is 6-foot-4 — although it assumes you’re talking about NBA player Ricky Rubio. Florida political blog “The Shark Tank” (no relation) says Marco is “5-9ish.” His speech was in the early evening. And, yes, he is a Republican.

I actually can’t decide which question is stupider, the third or the fifth. But we will come back to that.

And, Rand Paul. There is one good trivia question here. Rand Paul is an ophthalmologist, and a rebellious one, at that. To answer the other questions: Rand Paul is 52 and he is apparently 5-foot-8. Who is his father? His father is Darth Vader.

Why would you ask who his father is if you didn’t already know who his father was? Like, was someone going around to people and saying, “I will give you $100 if you can tell me within the next 10 minutes who Rand Paul’s father is”? Or were people thinking, “Hmm, I wonder if this Rand Paul fellow is related to Tony Paul from the Elks Club?” I seriously don’t understand that.

What’s important, though, is this: That is the only question in the entire set that is remotely concerned with the actual question at hand, which is, presumably: Should I vote for this person? The phrasing of it is terrible and all but guaranteed to yield no response, but at least those people were asking the question.

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After two months of behind-the-scenes legal combat, the attorneys for Gov. Scott, all three Cabinet members and most major Florida news outlets will try to mediate their differences in a lawsuit that accuses the four state officials of violating the Sunshine Law.

The April 22 mediation session in Tallahassee will mean that a scheduled videotaped deposition of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey will be rescheduled. Bailey was forced to retire in December by Scott’s general counsel, with no public vote or discussion, even though by law the FDLE chief also reports to all three elected Cabinet members.

Michael Barfield, a paralegal for Sarasota attorney Andrea Flynn Mogensen, who represents the news organizations, said the plaintiffs agreed to mediation after repeated efforts by lawyers for Scott and the Cabinet to delay or limit the scope of Bailey’s sworn statements.

Barfield said the news outlets are seeking, among other things, a new public two-step process for the hiring of Cabinet agency heads; an executive order from Scott prohibiting state officials from using private email accounts for public business; a requirement that high-level state officials must post text messages and emails on the Project Sunburst web site within 24 hours; and a voiding of the Jan. 13 vote that made Rick Swearingen the new commissioner of FDLE. Swearingen could be reappointed, but there have been multiple cases in Florida in which the “cure” for a Sunshine violation is a voiding of the original action.

The two sides have selected former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding as mediator. In his last similar role as a hearing officer in a high-profile case, Harding ruled in December that former FSU quarterback Jameis Winston did not violate the university’s code of student conduct.



Six Republicans in Congress are asking federal officials to release hospital funding that is now caught up in a legislative battle over Medicaid expansion.

Rubio and five other GOP members sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services saying the aid shouldn’t be held “hostage” to force Florida to expand Medicaid.

The state Senate supports offering health coverage to 800,000 Floridians. The House and Gov. Scott oppose the move.

Florida was warned a year ago that it could lose more than $1 billion in federal aid used to pay hospitals for treatment of the poor and uninsured. Federal officials this week said they want expansion as part of any deal to release the hospital money.

Emails show that the Scott administration worked on the draft of the letter.


The letter is written to seem as though it’s from the six members of Congress, but emails show it was written by Jenn Ungru, the Agency for Health Care Administration’s chief of staff, in late March.

That was days before GOP state Sens. Rene Garcia of Miami and Garrett Richter of Naples traveled to Washington to talk about the LIP program. That trip angered the Scott administration, which is in charge of LIP negotiations.

The letters are not identical, but carry exact wording in many areas, including the introduction.

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: So @FLGovScott admin was prepared for dispute with CMS – before senators went to DC, before negotiations were “suspended” … So in essence the Scott admin. drafted a letter asking CMS to not hold hospital $ “hostage” in late March due to expansion. Note that timing


Lawmakers will likely need a special session to resolve a deadlock between the House and Senate over healthcare spending, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said.

The House and Senate are $4.2 billion apart in their preferred budgets, mainly because the Senate includes a plan to expand Medicaid as well as a replacement for the Low Income Pool, a separate Medicaid program that pays hospitals for the care of low-income and uninsured patients. The House budget includes neither.

“If we’re not (agreeing on Medicaid expansion) then there’s no reason to sit here and kid ourselves. So we’ll finish out the business that we have before us on the policy and then we come back and do the budget at a later time,” Crisafulli told reporters.

The Legislature is constitutionally mandated to pass a balanced budget each year. The regular legislative session is scheduled to end May 1, but the fiscal year doesn’t start until July 1.

The House is refusing to take up a Senate plan to expand Medicaid to 800,000 Floridians who make too much to qualify for the federal healthcare program. The plan requires recipients to pay co-pays, premiums and be employed or looking for work.


“They had a cordial conversation,” said state Sen. Garrett Richter, who was listening in Gardiner’s office. “The president indicated that we’re anxious to get a budget and we’d like to do it on time, and we’re anxious to get a budget that responds to the (health care) issues — and we’ve got the tax cuts on the shelf. We’re also supportive of the education funding that the governor wants to do. But before we decide how to do it, we’ve got to get this big elephant tamed. There’s a $2 billion elephant in the room.”


There’s been no action publicly in the Legislature this week on Amendment 1 spending or bills dealing with water policy but those issues are being worked on, state Sen. Tom Lee, the Senate’s chief budget writer, said Wednesday.

Amendment 1 is the water and land conservation funding initiative approved by voters in November. The measure is expected to provide almost $740 million a year for programs in the 2014-15 state budget.

… The Senate also is working on a water bill, SB 918, which is expected to provide money for water projects. The House proposed spending plan has $80.6 million allocated toward water projects that would be decided during budget negotiations with the Senate.

Lee … said the Legislature needs to do a better job of crafting policy that applies science to any such deals.

“This is a brand new pot of money,” Lee said of Amendment 1. “It’s not a piggy bank.”

“We don’t want to blow it on a bunch of projects that might be the priority today and wake up and recognize that we didn’t get a good bang for our buck.

“So we want to make sure the science is involved, we want to make sure there is a vetting process for these projects and that we’re scrubbing these deals so that the state is getting the best bang for its buck,” he said. “So we’re working hard on all these right now.”


A Senate panel threw its support behind Florida’s top healthcare administrator Wednesday, but only after grilling her for more than 60 minutes about the deepening impasse over the healthcare budget.

The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee voted 8-1 to recommend that Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek keep her job.

Dudek faced a series of tough questions about her agency’s negotiations with the federal government over the future of the federal-state hospital funding program known as the Low Income Pool.


Steverson said “climate change” three times during a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday in response to a senator’s question about whether there is a department policy against using the phrase.

Steverson was responding to state Sen. Darren Soto, a Democrat from Kissimmee who was wearing a climate change button on his lapel, about news reports that there is such an unwritten policy.

“I, for one, can read your pin from here so — climate change, climate change, climate change,” Steverson said. “There, I’ve said it three times.”

“There is absolutely no policy against discussing climate change at the department,” he said. “In fact, we have multiple programs related to climate change.”

Steverson, 38, was confirmed unanimously by the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation. Gov. Scott appointed him in December to take over for Herschel T. Vinyard Jr., who left as secretary after the governor’s first term.

Steverson, who was executive director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District from 2012 to 2014, said the department has a climate change category within the Florida Forever land-buying program.


As the House met in full session Wednesday morning, patient advocates were abuzz about a new amendment allowing terminally ill patients to use medicinal marijuana.

State Rep. Matt Gaetz tried to attach it to the bill that would create the Right to Try Act, which would allow patients to use experimental drugs and devices that have completed only the first phase of clinical trials.

It marked the first time this session the House had discussed medicinal marijuana on the floor of the House.

“I think it captured the House’s spirit on their compassion and their understanding of the potential value” of medicinal cannabis, Jeff Sharkey said of the debate over Gaetz’s amendment. Sharkey is a spokesman for the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida.

“It represented their willingness to explore ways to help people who are very ill,” he said.

Gaetz put his amendment on state Rep. Ray Pilon’s bill that would make Florida the 12th state to allow dying patients to use medicines and devices that have yet to be approved by the FDA.

“Why wouldn’t we also say a substance that has been legalized in at least 20 states in this country would also be available for this very small group of people?” Gaetz said.


If ever there was a time for opponents of the “whiskey and Wheaties” bill to drop the mic, as it were, that moment came Wednesday.

That’s when a notice came out about the Senate version (SB 468), carried by Denise Grimsley, that it was “pending withdrawal.”

On Tuesday, the House bill (HB 107) died in the House Regulatory Affairs committee with 10 votes against and six votes for.

With the House bill dead and the Senate bill being pulled, the effort to integrate distilled spirits with beer and wine in retailers’ main stores appears dead this session.

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A lengthy debate over a lobbying ethics reform bill ended with former Senate President Don Gaetz moving to TP his own bill. The proposal – Gaetz’s SB 1372 – would tighten many restrictions on often-overlooked aspects of lobbying in Florida.

Most notably, it would hold Gov. Scott‘s brainchild – Enterprise Florida, Inc., housed within another Scott innovation in the Department of Economic Opportunity – to the same standards that other state governmental apparatuses are held to.

Specifically, it would require those seeking to influence public-private jobs creation to register as executive branch lobbyists, subject to the same two-year “cooling-off period” as other employees at EF who seek to enter the influence industry.

While most committee members, and those who testified, were fine with that rule, it gave others pause.

Gaetz said the amendment allowing members to sit on panels includes locally elected and appointed offices. This is regardless of whether the panels take up issues represented by co-principals and partners of those members. They would have to recuse themselves if there is conflict in less than 1 percent of cases, but Gaetz said the rule simply intends to increase the “eligible crop of suitable participants in public affairs.” That still did not sit well with some.


After lawmakers attempted to shut down Internet cafes two years ago, the House could soon pass a bill allowing businesses like Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese to continue offering amusement games. On Wednesday, the House took up HB 641, from Panama City Republican Jay Trumbull for a full House to come as soon as Thursday.

The bill clarifies the law on the operation of amusement games and machines. Lawmakers quickly passed a law in 2013 shutting popular Internet cafes, accused of illegal gambling.

The move also raised concerns that the 2013 law possibly applies to games at family arcades, such as those at Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese. The new House bill says: “the Legislature finds that there is a compelling state interest in clarifying the operation and use of amusement games or machines to ensure that provisions regulating these devices are not subject to abuse or interpreted in any manner as creating an exception to the state’s general prohibitions against gambling.”

BILL WOULD LET STUDENTS ATTEND 1 SCHOOL, PLAY SPORTS FOR ANOTHER via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of the Naples Daily News

A proposal that would allow students to attend one school but play sports for another narrowly passed a Senate education panel Wednesday.

The measure (SB 1480) passed the state Senate pre-k-12 education committee on a 6-5 vote. Similar House legislation (HB 7137) was approved last month and is headed to the House floor.

Among other things, the measure threatens to replace the Florida High School Athletic Association with a state-selected nonprofit organization; calls on the organization to offer fans the option to buy a single-day pass or multiple-day pass instead of per-event tickets; and allows students, including those in public schools, to participate in sports at another school if the program isn’t offered at their school.

“I think that extracurricular activities are very important. I think arts are very important, I think music, I think sports, all those things make for a very well rounded child,” said state Sen. Kelli Stargel, the bill’s sponsor.

Stargel, who has proposed similar legislation in previous years, said she has got involved with the issue because she’s seen children, including friends of her children, who have been unable to participate in sports because of transfer rules.

Many of those rules, she said, basically say if a family moves over the summer a student can’t participate in sports at that school.

QUOTE OF THE DAY — “There’s only so many times you can send al Qaeda to charm school” — state Sen. Don Gaetz on reforming the Florida High School Athletic Association.



The Senate Appropriations Committee has scheduled a daylong meeting to examine a list of bills before going to a full Senate vote. Meeting starts 9 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.


The House will be spending the day in a floor session starting at  10:30 a.m. in the House chamber.

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: Controversial “conscience clause” bill re gay adoptions up in Senate Rules on Monday

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Marc Dunbar, Emily Buckley, Chris Moya, Daniel Russell, Jones Walker: World Triathlon Corp.

Electra Bustle, Sarrah Carroll, Towson Fraser, Southern Strategy Group: Robbins-Giola, LLC

Mercer Fearington, James McFaddin, Jim Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, Inc.

Andreina Figueroa, ADF Consulting, Best Decision, LLC; Floria Land Title Association

Robert Hawken, Leath Consulting: ESG Kullen, LLC

Jim Naff: Smith Bryan & Myers: Florida Wildlife Federation

Robert Wilson, Wilson & Associates: Sunoco LP

PIC DU JOUR is of what the Capitol Rotunda looks like during Children’s Week. H/t to state Rep. Bill Hager.


On Context Florida: Floridians want the state to buy sugar industry-owned land south of Lake Okeechobee to store and clean water, says Sally Swartz. Unfortunately, that is not what the sugar industry wants. The “Save Our Rivers/Buy the Land” advocates are not giving up, and Stuart Republican Joe Negron offers a glimmer of hope. Marc Yacht notes that Israelis and Palestinians are weary of conflict. The Palestinians need a contiguous land of their own, as did Israel, he adds. The first step is to acknowledge the State of Israel allowing needed efforts for a two-state solution. Continued hostilities have no productive future and play into the hands of those profiting from conflict. Looking backward is not an option. The Florida Legislature has passed, and Gov. Rick Scott has signed, an education reform bill that Jac VerSteeg calls dishonest – and politically cowardly – at its core. It simply kicks the can down the road. A coach once gave Todd Dagenais golden advice, which stuck with him every day of his 20-year volleyball-coaching career: “Get to know the custodians.”

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

POLITICO SAYS IT’S COMING TO TALLAHASSEE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

The Washington, D.C.-based political website POLITICO began in 2007 with 35 employees.

It now maintains more than 400 staffers globally. Among the most notable hires for political junkies in Florida was when the site raided Marc Caputo from the Miami Herald back in January.

Now POLITICO says Caputo will be joined by a “team of political and policy writers in Tallahassee.”

The news was released via an email from President and CEO Jim VandeHei to the Politico staff Wednesday morning. He said that as part of providing more coverage in state capitols, Politico will begin by hiring more reporters in Trenton, N.J., and then follow up in Tallahassee, with bureaus also to open in California, Illinois and Massachusetts, with more to follow.

“[A]ll expansion will take place under the POLITICO banner in the states and overseas,” VandeHei wrote. “We will have lots of outposts but all will fall under one name. We are blessed with a brand people know and respect — and a publisher in Robert Allbritton who wants to spread it everywhere. This starts with our Capital New York operation. It will become POLITICO New York. It will be the same great staff and approach under a new name. We have New York politics and policy wired — and this will allow readers to not only enjoy our local coverage but benefit from knowing what’s happening in other states. …”

He added, “Later this year, we will launch POLITICO in Jersey with a mix of free and paid content for the state written by reporters with expertise and experience in the state. We will create a bureau with the clear mandate to dominate coverage in Trenton and beyond. This process is underway. Shortly after, we will launch in Florida, hiring a team of political and policy writers in Tallahassee to join Caputo, who’s already killing it down there. We will follow with additional states as quickly as we can.”

TODAY’S GOVS CLUB BUFFET MENU: Coconut Curry Chicken Soup, Cold Cut Combo Sandwich Board with Chips, Cold Cut Combo, Chef Salad                                                                                                                                                                         , Tuna & Chicken Salad, Barbeque Top Sirloin, Baked Flounder with Buttery Parmesan Crumbs, Ticinella Sausage with Tomato-Bean Stew & Onions, California Mixed Vegetables, Scalloped Potatoes, Peach Cobbler, Assorted Mini Desserts

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Lee County GOP chairman Terry Miller.

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.