Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – August 5

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

By Peter Schorsch (Peter@FloridaPolitics.com; @SaintPetersBlog) with Phil Ammann (Phil@FloridaPolitics.com; @PhilAmmann) and Ryan Ray (Ryan@FloridaPolitics.com @RyanRay_Fla)

THE SECOND EDITION OF INFLUENCE MAGAZINE IS ALMOST HERE

Hot off the presses and expectED to arrive in mailboxes in time for the upcoming Special Session of the Florida Legislature is the second issue of INFLUENCE Magazine — an inside view into Florida’s news, politics, and culture.

This edition includes profiles of Speaker Designate-to-be Jose Oliva, POLITICO’s Marc Caputo, J.C. Flores, Yolanda Cash Jackson, as well as an in-depth focus on Miami-Dade and Broward County politics.

Additionally, there is:

— A conversation with Jesse Manzano-Plaza, Brian May, Ben Pollara and Ashley Walker;

— Scoreboards of who were the Winners and Losers of the 2015 Legislative Session;

— and an interview of Hill+Knowlton’s Bob Lotane that will move you to tears.

All of this and so so so much more!

INFLUENCE Magazine officially debuts Monday, August 10, but if you are interested in receiving a copy of INFLUENCE Magazine mailed to you, please email me at Peter@FloridaPolitics.com.

FLORIDAPOLITICS.COM ADDS BLOGGER/TV COMMENTATOR FRANK TORRES

Orlando-based political blogger Frank Torres is bringing his brand of in-depth Central Florida political coverage to Florida Politics.

Torres is the latest addition to Extensive Enterprises Media, which publishes FloridaPolitics.com, SaintPetersBlog.com, Context Florida and Sunburn.

“There’s no one more dialed-in in the Central Florida political arena than Frank,” publisher Peter Schorsch said. “He’s simply everywhere.”

“We’re extremely excited about Frank joining Florida Politics as we expand our coverage to Orlando and the rest of Central Florida,” he added.

Torres is a U.S Army veteran who grew up in Central Florida and has covered Orlando politics since 2009. He’s a regular analyst/contributor for several television and radio networks in the market.

“Right now, I think Peter and the team at Florida Politics have the best product for political news in the state,” Torres said. “I’m happy to help him expand that brand to the center of the I-4 corridor.”

JOHN KASICH IS IN, RICK PERRY IS OUT IN FIRST REPUBLICAN DEBATE via Maggie Haberman of the New York Times

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio is in and former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is out of Fox News’s Republican debate … in Cleveland … resolving the mystery of which lower-polling candidates will make the cut for the first debate of the 2016 presidential contest.

The network announced the 10 candidates who will have a podium spot for the main forum, which is expected to draw wide national viewership and give an invaluable platform to the candidates involved. The remaining seven will be part of an earlier forum airing at 5 p.m. that day.

Fox News’s “decision desk,” which does its election night calls, sifted through five national polls, including the network’s own survey … to select the top 10 candidates for the debate based on the polling.

The others included in the lineup are Donald Trump … Jeb Bush … Scott Walker … Marco Rubio … Ted Cruz … Rand Paul … Ben Carson … Mike Huckabee … Chris Christie.

There were few options for how Fox News, which was awarded the first sanctioned Republican debate after a process worked out by the Republican National Committee, could navigate such a sprawling field.

TWEET, TWEET: @DylanByers: George Will rightly points out on Fox News that candidates will get 11 minutes at most, each…. probably less. Argument for 3-hour debate?

DEBATE JUNKIES EAGERLY AWAIT DONALD TRUMP; OTHER CANDIDATES, NOT SO MUCH  via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

For presidential-debate geeks, Santa Claus has arrived.

His name is Donald Trump.

The fact that the real-estate mogul and celebrity candidate will take part in the first 2016 Republican debate Thursday — standing center stage, no less, as the undisputed leader in the polls — has debate watchers giddy with excitement over the unpredictability of it all.

“Anyone would be lying if they said they weren’t tuning in to watch Trump,” said Aaron Kall, director of debate at the University of Michigan. “What is he going to do? What is he going to say? Certainly he’s going to be the star of the show.”

That’s not what the nine other men trying to get a piece of the spotlight want to hear.

THE DEBATE PRESS RELEASE IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE HASHTAG via Shane Goldmacher of the National Journal

… (P)olitical campaigns are getting more creative about shaping the debate coverage as it unfolds in real time.  The coming barrage of Twitter ads—in which campaigns upload the handles of the exact reporters they want to target—is only one piece in the pitched battle for supremacy on the debate’s so-called second screen. Digital 2016 operatives have spent weeks lining up tweets, surrogates, ad buys, and infographics to complement the most lacerating lines delivered on stage. Buying up relevant Google search terms is another popular maneuver. But digital strategists of all stripes agree that on debate nights, Twitter is king.

POLLS GALORE

Bloomberg Politics poll: Trump 21%; Jeb Bush 10%; Scott Walker 8%; Mike Huckabee7%, Marco Rubio 6%; Rand Paul 5%; Ben Carson 5%; Chris Christie 4%; Ted Cruz4%; John Kasich 4%.

Fox News poll: Trump 26%; Bush 15%; Walker 9%; Carson 7%; Cruz 6%; Huckabee 6%; Rubio 5%; Paul 5%; Christie 3%; Kasich 3%.

Monmouth University poll: Trump 26%; Bush 12%, Walker 11%; Cruz 6%; Huckabee 6%; Carson 5%; Christie 4%; Paul 4%; Rubio 4%; Kasich 3%.

PUBLISHER MOVES UP DONALD TRUMP BIO FROM EARLY NEXT YEAR TO OCTOBER via the Associated Press

With Trump still leading in Republican presidential polls, the publisher of a biography that features interviews with the real estate mogul is moving up the release date from early next year to this fall.

St. Martin’s Press announced … an Oct. 6 sale date for Michael D’Antonio’s “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success.” … the book draws on “multiple exclusive” conversations with Trump, and interviews with some of his children and with ex-wives Ivana Trump and Marla Maples.

JEB BUSH’S FLUB ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD FUNDING DRAWS HILLARY CLINTON REBUKE  via Lesley Clark of the Miami Herald

Jeb Bush‘s campaign moved quickly Tuesday to try to contain a firestorm over remarks the candidate made that appeared to question the amount of money spent on women’s health care.

In an interview about defunding Planned Parenthood, Bush told the Southern Baptist Convention he was “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.”

Critics, chiefly Hillary Clinton, pounced rapidly.

The Democratic National Committee piled on too: “This backwards ideology isn’t only the exact opposite of what women need from their next president – it could put the health of millions of women in jeopardy,” said Kaylie Hanson, DNC Director of Women’s Media.

Bush, who took a week of hammering earlier this spring for flubbing a response to a question about the Iraq war, rapidly issued a clarification, saying he had “misspoke” about women’s health funding.

“There are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women’s health organizations that need to be fully funded,” he said, adding that he was referring to what he called the “hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood.”

TWEET, TWEET: @Eric_Jotkoff: Wait?!? Did he misspeak about how he misspoke?!?

BUSH’S AD-LIB OFFERS DEMS ANOTHER GIFT via Eli Stokols of POLITICO

Another ill-advised ad lib from Bush, another opportunity for Democrats. Bush … repeated his call to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood — and then he went even further, questioning the amount of government support for women’s health programs generally.

Less than an hour after Bush wrapped up his appearance before more than 13,000 members at a Southern Baptist convention in Nashville, Clinton tweeted directly at Bush: “You are absolutely, unequivocally wrong.”

Bush would eventually fire back at Clinton with a tweet of his own, saying, “@HillaryClinton what’s absolutely, unequivocally wrong is giving taxpayer $ to an org whose practices show no regard for lives of unborn.”

— “Trump: I would shut down government over Planned Parenthood” via Jeremy Diamond of CNN

BUSH EARNED OVER $9 MILLION FROM BUSINESS, SPEAKING GIGS via the Associated Press

Bush earned more than $9 million from his business endeavors and speaking fees … reported more than $1.8 million in speaking fees since the beginning of 2014. That’s an average of just over $42,000 for each speech.

His single largest source of income was Jeb Bush & Associates, which collected his speaking fees and performs strategy and consulting work. Bush says he no longer owns it.

In addition to that income, Bush also reported substantial financial assets, including stock funds and loans provided through Lending Club, an online peer-to-peer lending service. Bush had already released decades of his personal tax returns, including one for 2013 in which he earned $7.3 million and paid $2.9 million in federal income taxes.

IS BUSH TURNING INTO MICHAEL DUKAKIS? via Daniel McGraw of POLITICO

To hear Bush tell it, he’s right where he wants to be, the “joyful tortoise” in the race who doesn’t want to say “outrageous things that turns people off to the conservative message.” … But many GOP voters don’t seem to care about the long haul. And they’re certainly not looking for a joyful tortoise. They want a fire-breathing dragon. They want, above all, passion. They want it now. And they’re not finding it in Jeb Bush.

Enter Trump. Strategists in the Bush camp seem unconcerned about the vituperative magnate’s sudden rise in the polls, with one of them telling The New York Times that in the end the Trump surge will only create “panic” in the GOP and drive voters to Bush … That seems wishful thinking at best.

Ironically the best strategy for Bush may be to go way back to his last failed political campaign, in 1994, a time when he himself was the passionate firebrand conservative.

HOT TAKE — IF BUSH WANTS TO WIN, HE SHOULD PLAY CHESS via Dan Pfeiffer of CNN

The Republicans can maximize their chances of winning next year by making the election about a choice between the future and the past. Clinton, because of her long time on the national stage and her last name, would be potentially vulnerable to this message from the right candidate. Bush doesn’t embody the future; he embodies a very unpleasant and unpopular past.

The main reason for Bush to pull out of Iowa is that he is going to lose, and may lose badly. … Bush is mired in third place in Iowa, trailing Walker by nearly 10 points. Despite having a fairly successful campaign announcement speech that helped his numbers elsewhere, Bush has been stuck in Iowa, which appears to be skeptical of his conservative credentials and resistant to help put another Bush in the White House. This is a bad sign given his family’s history of success in the state … Because of their low turnout and the significant time commitment for attendees, caucuses are contests of enthusiasm. This is a problem for Bush for two reasons.

First, apart from raising millions and millions and millions of dollars, Bush hasn’t yet proved himself to be a particularly dynamic candidate. Second, the most enthusiastic supporters tend to also be the most conservative, which is why the last two GOP Iowa caucuses were won by the most conservative candidate in the field … More generally, the Iowa caucus is a poor predictor of the eventual Republican nominee.

ACTIVIST GROUPS ASSAIL MARCO RUBIO FOR BLOCKING JUDICIAL NOMINEES via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

So far this year the Republican-led U.S. Senate has scheduled votes on only five federal judges selected by President Barack Obama, leading New York Democrat Chuck Schumer to remark to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley last week, “That … is a disgrace.”

Four activist groups agree: A memo … by the groups Progress Florida, Progress Texas, Nevadans for Judicial Progress and Why Courts Matter Iowa say that the four GOP Senators running for President: Marco RubioRand PaulTed Cruz and Lindsey Graham, have a combined 17 judicial vacancies, “meaning their constituents have waited thousands of days for justice.”

Citing statistics from the Alliance for Justice, the groups say that at this point in his presidency, Republicans are blocking Obama’s nominations at a record rate. There are three vacancies of federal courts here in Florida, two without a nominee.

RUBIO SLOWLY BUILDS MORMON STRATEGY TO WIN NEVADA CAUCUS via Florida Politics

Rubio, languishing near the bottom of many national polls, is systematically building an organization ahead of the Nevada caucus, replicating the successful strategy Mitt Romney used in 2012.

The Florida senator is establishing a network of well-connected Mormon activists, which could bring the turnout needed for a Nevada win … recruiting Church of the Latter Day Saints leaders proves Rubio is taking Nevada seriously, challenging Jeb Bush for frontrunner status, regardless of polling.

Bush’s operation in Nevada, using the same staffers that helped Romney win there, is also tapping the Mormon network, with the hope that the state’s governor – a fellow Catholic – will come out in support.

Rubio telegraphed his strategy by naming Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, himself a Mormon, as state chair. Hutchison, once a high-profile LDS leader, joined Daniel Stewart, an aide and well-regarded LDS attorney, in Hutchison & Co. to assemble a roster of Rubio supporters.

It’s also important to note that Rubio spent time as a child in the LDS in Las Vegas before converting to Catholicism.

TWEET WHAT? @MikieBarbaro: Rubio confession: “I am not really familiar with evangelical hip-hop.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rubio is in Cleveland, campaigning with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, ahead of Thursday’s debate. H/t POLITICO’s 2016 Blast.

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RICK SCOTT TELLS GOP CANDIDATES WHAT HE WANTS TO HEAR AT THURSDAY’S DEBATE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Not that anyone was asking him, but Scott has a lot of thoughts about what he wants to hear from the 17 Republican presidential candidates participating in the two debates from Cleveland … Seven candidates will debate at 5 p.m. while the top 10 candidates in the polls engage in the prime time debate at 9 p.m.

After reading his manifesto, one has to wonder whether he doesn’t wish he were running for higher office this year.

The 692-word statement … titled, “What We Must Demand from the Republican August 6th Debates.” In it, Scott boasts of creating 900,000 jobs in the 4 1/2 years since he’s been in office, and calls on the next president to have a plan to add 12 million jobs in the next four years. He also wants the next Republican president needs to cut federal regulations, “in half,” and says the next Republican president must also balance the budget “now, and not in 10 years.”

Scott doesn’t explicitly say that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, but says that all individual and employer mandates and all taxes under the law should go away. He also wants to convert Medicaid into a state block grant program, and boasts that Florida has not expanded Medicaid … Scott also weighs in on foreign affairs, calling for the Iran nuclear deal and rapprochement with Cuba to be scuttled.

DICK CHENEY TO SPEAK AT RPOF DINNER EVENT via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

The crowded field of Republican presidential candidates and Vice President Dick Cheney will be headed to Orlando in November as the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) gets ready for next year’s presidential election … Cheney will be speaking at a dinner event on Thursday, Nov. 12 before the RPOF kicks off the Sunshine Summit. The various presidential hopefuls will be speaking on Friday, Nov. 13 and Saturday Nov. 14.

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: Like the news re Scott’s prez candidate memo & RPOF forum re-sked? It was in email boxes 6 hours B4 others blogged … That’s not to say other political reporters in FL havent done & dont do great work. They do. Some are just petty about attribution

ACTIVISTS QUESTION SCOTT’S MOVE TO SPEED UP ENVIRONMENTAL PICK via Steve Bousquet of the Miami Herald

Some environmentalists are suspicious of … Scott‘s decision to seek Cabinet approval … on the reappointment of Jon Steverson as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. They suspect Scott is speeding up the vote in Tallahassee as a way to limit public criticism of Steverson’s proposals to open up state parks to commercial activities such as hunting, cattle grazing and timber harvesting.

Scott did move up the timing of the DEP appointment without explanation by adding Steverson to (the) agenda as required by law. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater‘s office questioned the decision.

Scott Cabinet aide Kristin Olsen made reference to the fact that Attorney General Pam Bondi had dropped her original request to interview other candidates for DEP, “so we just figured we’d move forward and do it,” Olsen said.

WHO’S TO BLAME FOR FLORIDA’S RISING MEDICAID COSTS? via Kelli Kennedy and Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Scott is blaming rising Medicaid costs on President Barack Obama‘s health law, even though the state’s top economist said the two were not related … the safety net health care program will rise in 2016-2017 to a total of $24.8 billion, a cost that would require Florida legislators to come up with $579 million in state money alone to fill the gap.

The costs come on top of a request from health insurers seeking a $400 million raise and a 12 percent rate increase from the state, saying they can’t afford to sustain further losses. But the Republican governor strongly opposes pumping any additional state funds into the Medicaid program and wasn’t happy when state lawmakers invested $400 million earlier this year in order to help out hospitals that were losing other types of federal aid.

The Medicaid program is finishing its first year under a new managed care structure that Scott fought vigorously for, arguing it would save the state money. But now that the program seems in desperate need of additional funding, Scott is blaming the insurance companies and hospitals.

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: This may be the first time a sitting governor has written a letter to the normally non-partisan panel of economists

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FLORIDA INSPECTS PLANNED PARENTHOODS, BUT RESULTS UNKNOWN via Kelli Kennedy of the Associated Press

Planned Parenthood says Florida health officials have inspected its 16 facilities, but state officials have not released the results. Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates Executive Director Laura Goodhue told The Associated Press … the inspections were conducted … one day after Scott said he was troubled by videos describing the organization’s procedures for providing tissue from aborted fetuses for research. The Republican governor warned he would take quick legal and regulatory action if any Florida facilities were found in violation.

DAVID JOLLY INTRODUCES BILL TO DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune/Naples Daily News

Jolly … is continuing the fight to strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood in the wake of videos of organization officials dispassionately discussing how they sometimes provide medical researchers with tissue from aborted fetuses … filed a bill identical to one that failed in the Senate this week. It would stop the flow of federal funds to the group and instead spread the money to other women’s health providers.

Jolly said his bill “does defund Planned Parenthood fully … but it retains funding for women’s health care services” like sexually transmitted disease testing and cervical and breast cancer screenings. The same language, however, failed … in the Senate on a mostly party-line vote of 53-46, seven short of the 60 votes Republicans needed.

HOUSE PAID $600,000 FOR EX-SPEAKER RAY SANSOM’S LEGAL BILLS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

The final chapter in the Ray Sansom story has been written, in the form of a big check to Sansom’s lawyers. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli approved payment of $600,000 in legal fees that Sansom, a former House speaker, ran up in successfully defending himself against criminal charges that ended his promising political career.

That’s significantly less money than a judge had approved. “The House has reached a full settlement of all claims related to this litigation for $600,000. Payment has been made and the matter is now closed,” Crisafulli said in a statement.

HAPPENDING TODAY: DON AND MATT GAETZ TO SPEAK ON THE STATE, FAMILY AND POLITICS AT FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY via Crestview News Bulletin

Florida State University’s Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy program will host father-and-son legislators Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Matt Gaetz in a discussion of special sessions, lawmaking and the intersection of family and politics. The discussion is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Historic Capitol, Senate Side, Tallahassee.

GULF OF MEXICO DEAD ZONE 11TH BIGGEST, BIGGER THAN PREDICTED via the Associated Press

An area in the Gulf of Mexico with too little oxygen to keep sea creatures alive is the 11th largest measured and nearly 18 percent bigger than predicted earlier this year. It has gotten so big because heavy June rains throughout the Mississippi River watershed carried nutrient-rich runoff from farms and other human activities into the gulf, federal and state scientists said … Those nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, feed algae and other one-celled plants that die and fall to the bottom, where their decomposition uses up oxygen.

This year’s dead zone is about as big as Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, covering 6,474 square miles, said Nancy Rabalais, who has measured the low-oxygen area for 31 years … It also extends higher than usual above the bottom, and much of the area has even less oxygen than usual, she wrote in her annual report.

The cutoff for the low-oxygen condition, known as hypoxia, is less than 2 milligrams of oxygen per liter of water. Much of the hypoxic area had less than half that much, often very close to zero, Rabalais wrote.

TECO TO BUILD LARGE SOLAR PROJECT AT BIG BEND POWER STATION via Yvette Hammett of the Tampa Tribune

Tampa Electric Company announced plans Tuesday to build a massive solar array next to its Big Bend Power Station — a project expected to produce enough electricity to power 3,500 homes.

The project will dwarf TECO’s other solar arrays, including one now under construction atop a parking garage at Tampa International Airport. That project will produce 2 megawatts of power. The Big Bend project will produce 25 megawatts of electricity.

TECO plans to construct the array on a 125-acre tract adjacent to the power plant. It will be the largest solar power facility in Hillsborough County.

This isn’t the first time TECO has announced a major solar project. It announced plans to build a similar project in Polk County in 2009, but the Florida Public Service Commission found it not to be cost effective and rescinded approval of the project.

Since then, the cost of such systems has come down.

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TWEET, TWEET: @TheRickWilson: Sitting at The Wine Loft having a cocktail between TV hits. Because that’s how  #GOPSmartSetRulingClassRINOEliteIlluminatiDisinfoAgents roll

IN THE DEPARTURE LOUNGE

Summertime often sees a flurry of personnel moves in the world of government and politics. Continuing this occasional series, we update you on who’s in the Departure Lounge.

— First up is Ian Martorana, who is leaving his job as communications director for U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis. As someone on the receiving end of Martorana’s emails and press releases, I can attest to the incredible job Martorana has done in this position. Heck, he even has Bilirakis posting on Medium.

Marmorean emails that he is starting “a new adventure with Congressman Paul Ryan.” His last day in the Bilirakis office is Aug. 11.

— SaintPetersBlog “30 under 30″ Rising Star Stephen Lawson has left the Executive Office of the Governor. The devout University of Florida fan is now the communications director at Enterprise Florida.

— Lobbyist Towson Fraser is no longer part of Southern Strategy Group, according to the state’s registered lobbyist directory.

— Chelsea Murphy is no longer with Adams Street Advocates. Her LinkedIn page states that she is now an account executive with Captiveyes, a media & advertising company based in Tallahassee.

— In case you missed SPB’s updates on who’s on and who’s off the legislative staffing merry-go-round, here are a few well-liked staffers who are now in the Departure Lounge:

• Chase Daniels has left his position as a legislative assistant to Sen. Charlie Dean.

• Carolyn Tucker has left her position with Rep. Jay Fant‘s office, although she is now his re-election campaign’s finance director.

• J.J. Whitson has left his position as a legislative assistant to Sen. Travis Hutson.

APPOINTED: Dr. Seela Ramesh to the Florida Board of Medicine.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Brady Benford, Chris Dorworth, Ballard Partners: Draft Kings; Fan Duel, Inc.; Fantasy Sports Trade Association

Joanne Bonfanti, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Henderson Beach Resort Hotel

William Brod: Capitol Lobby Firm

Chris Nuland: Florida Gastroenterologic Society

Eric Prutsman, Prutsman & Associates: One Beacon Government Risks

Q2 EARNINGS

ALAN SUSKEY, NOW ON HIS OWN, BRINGS IN AT LEAST $150K IN Q2 OF 2015

Alan Suskey may not have a big office on Adams Street, but it does make a good deal of money. According to recently filed state records, Suskey Consulting took in an estimated $150,000 between April and June alone.

The greatest contributions … came from Save Our Society from Drugs based in St. Petersburg. The group employed Suskey’s services to the tune of between $10,000 and $19,999 for representation via executive and legislative lobbying, up to nearly $40,000 all told. While none of Suskey’s other 13 executive clients or 15 legislative clients forked over quite that much, a steady stream of major clients included Arbor Properties, Sparton Corp., Seychelles Organics, and the City of Madeira Beach in Pinellas County.

FLORIDIAN PARTNERS TAKES IN ABOUT $1.28 MILLION 

Floridian Partners continued to rack up clients and compensation in an unusual second quarter that saw the Legislature in Session past its usual witching hour … 64 legislative clients and 47 executive clients accounted for at least $1.28 million in fees, with about $400,000 of that stemming from work on the plaza level of the Capitol, where executive offices are based, and the remainder from work informing and influencing state lawmakers.

Of those totals, the biggest fees came from telecommunications infrastructure firm Crown Castle USA, contributing an estimated maximum of $80,000 for legislative and executive representation.

The Florida Insurance Council pitched in as much as $70,000 for Floridian’s services, while Las Vegas Sands and the Florida Family Insurance Co. both contributed a combined total of up to $60,000. Florida Cable Telecommunications Association was another of the largest clients for the firm this quarter, employing them to the tune of up to $50,000.

RICH HEFFLEY’S LOBBYING SHOP EARNS $435K 

With just a two-person shop — prominent Republican strategist Rich Heffley and Kelly Horton, the firm’s VP of governmental affairs — Heffley & Associates … reported legislative earnings in the second quarter of 2015 reached an estimated total of $320,000 in legislative lobbying fees and $115,000 for executive work — a total of about $435,000, though the actual amount may be higher — making it one of Florida’s successful lobbying houses.

Heffley & Associates’ highest-paying client in Q2, Florida Medical Association, contributed up to $39,999 for legislative and $19,999 in executive lobbying services. Other top clients were Volkswagen — which accounted for up to $40,000 in overall fees, as well as Merck, Sharpe & Dohm, HCA Management Services, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, who each gave the lobbying house up to $29,999 for legislative representation.

ALM Media, telecom giant AT&T, and the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association all compensated the firm to the tune at least $10,000 last quarter, as did Heffley’s longtime clients at McGraw Hill, University of West Florida, the ASPCA, Porsche Cars North American, and TECO, the Tampa-based investor-owned utility company.

THE FIORENTINO GROUP PULLS IN $670K IN LOBBYING FEES DURING Q2

The Jacksonville-based governmental affairs firm The Fiorentino Group took home about $670,000 in compensation for its efforts in the second quarter of 2015 … At the top of the Jacksonville-based firm’s client list during Q2 was an eclectic group of entities only Fiorentino could tie together: CSX, UF Health Jacksonville, Public Defenders for the 4th Judicial Circuit and the ride-hailing company Uber Technologies combined to account for as much as $170,000 in compensation to the firm.

Surgical Care Affiliates also tied UF Health for the largest single invoice, paying between $20,000 and $29,999 for representation before the Legislature last quarter.

Just four lobbyists — Marty Fiorentino, Joseph MobleyMark Pinto and Thomas Griffin— handle the contract influence work for the firm’s roster of 59 executive branch and 54 legislative branch clients, giving the group a rigorous and profitable pound-for-pound workload.

HDR Engineering and Jacksonville University each employed Fiorentino’s Adams Street know-how to the tune of between $20,000 and $39,999 during the quarter. BHK Capital, a Jacksonville Beach real estate firm, paid the firm as much as $29,999 for its services between April and June.

CONTEXT FLORIDA: MEDICARE FOES, PRO-LIFE ATTACKS AND SKUNKS IN MARTIN COUNTY

On Context Florida: America’s doctors have long since made their peace with Medicare, which marked its 50th anniversary last week, but Martin Dyckman says the program’s oldest and most implacable enemy, the ideological right wing, is still bent on destroying it. In their libertarian outlook, any government program that helps people deprives them of liberty. Pro-life proponents continue their efforts at fever pitch, writes Marc Yacht. Their success continues to chip away laws designed to protect the right of choice. Current attacks on the funding of Planned Parenthood along with complicating the path to legal abortion will affect the under-served. Those populations will be driven further into poverty with such policies. It’s skunk week in Martin County, says Sally Swartz. Not to malign Florida’s real skunks, but their human imitators have left an odiferous trail countywide this week.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

MY TAKE: WITH A NOD TO HARPER’S INDEX, A NOTE ABOUT THE FLORIDA CAPITOL PRESS CORPS Full story here

After reading about the transition of former Florida Politics reporter Bruce Ritchie to POLITICO Florida, I got to thinking about the turnover in the Florida Capitol Press Corps. … came up with what I think is an interesting set of statistics.

35: The number of full-time members of the Florida Capitol Press Corps employed at the start of the 2014 Legislative Session by print or digital media outlets, i.e., not radio or TV stations … 18: The number of these reporters still employed at the same print or digital media outlet as of August 1, 2015.

That’s basically a 50% turnover rate among the Florida Capitol Press Corps. Five of those 18 are reporters at the News Service of Florida, so without NSF the attrition would be much worse.

I believe in my heart of hearts I have this same kind of relationship with dozens of other colleagues in the political and influence industries … This is not to suggest that the members of the Press Corps do not share this same sense of loyalty. In most cases, the turnover amongst them is likely due to management’s failings. The fact that most of those who have transitioned have done so to another news organization is proof of their dedication.

Still, I am left wondering… Why have half of these reporters changed jobs? Why didn’t their editors and managers do more to retain them? And, most important, how are readers supposed to trust these reporters if they can’t even recognize their names?

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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.