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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – Dec. 11

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.

Good morning from Orlando, where I am excited to sit on a panel with Dick Batchelor and Michelle Ertel to discuss, what else, Donald Trump, the 2016 presidential race, and the gift that keeps on giving – Florida politics. It’s doubtful our panel will be as, um, engaging as the one last night put on by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting that included Marc Caputo, Jim DeFede, and Patricia Mazzei, but we’ll try.

Since it is two weeks until Christmas, we’re really starting to get into the holiday spirit, as are so many others in The Process. Yesterday, we showcased the 2015 Christmas card from Tallahassee public relations shop CoreMessage. Today, we’re providing an exclusive first look at the cards from lobbying firms Southern Strategy Group and GrayRobinson.

Each year, the SSG Christmas card never fails to create a buzz in Tallahassee, typically with a political theme poking fun out of one of the year’s top stories.

The 2015 card features — who else — The Donald:

ssg 1

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“Our annual Christmas card has become a source of pride and enjoyment for the firm,” said Southern Strategies Group managing partner Chris Dudley. ”We like to mix the Christmas spirit with the funniest political stories of the year.

Playing on a political story closer to home — redistricting — the GR lobby team offers this:

gr 1


I guess it’s not surprising lobbyists could be so festive.

Keeping with the holiday theme, here’s a look at the official ornament from the Florida Governor’s Mansion, courtesy of Sunshine State News’ Allison Nielsen.


Gov. Scott hosted a party last night at the Mansion and several Sunburn readers posted photos from the event, including:

Slater Bayliss:


Christian Minor (with Chris Carmody):

Emmett Reed:gov5

and Chester Spellman:

gov4SPEAKING OF HOLIDAY PARTIES — RITCH WORKMAN COMBINES HOLIDAY CHEER WITH POLITICAL CHECKS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Workman, the Melbourne Republican and House Rules chairman, is inviting his Tallahassee friends – read “lobbyists” – to a “good old-fashioned Christmas party.” The hope is they’ll bring their checkbooks, though that’s “not required.” Workman said he’d “made a lot of friends in this process (but) usually our ‘fellowship’ is at a typical fundraising event … Well, once a year I want to do something different … I want to have my ‘Tallahassee friends’ (and their spouses) come together for a good old fashioned Christmas party … You and your peers are as close to office co-workers as I get as a State Representative … Thank you and Merry Christmas … (Not paid for at taxpayer expense).”

“DISCO POLE” APPROVED, “SPAGHETTI MONSTER” APPLIES FOR CAPITOL HOLIDAY DISPLAYS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – South Florida blogger Chaz Stevens said the Department of Management Services, which oversees state property, OK’d his Gay Pride Festivus pole to be shown Dec. 21-28 … In a memo … the department said, “We find no conflict with (the) Rules Governing the Use of State Buildings and grounds; therefore, this area is being made available to you as requested.” Also … the department received an application for a “Flying Spaghetti Monster” display from the Secular Student Alliance at Florida State University and “Pastafarian” Peter Wood. The Flying Spaghetti Monster, represented by a pair of googly eyes and yarn, is the deity of Pastafarianism, a combination of pasta and Rastafarianism.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Business and Professional Women of Tallahassee is holding its holiday gathering and annual membership drive at 2454 Augustine Court from 7-9 p.m. Guests are asked to bring a dish, a secret gift and a friend.

AND FINALLY … a ‘top of the fold’ happy birthday wish to my friend, Florida TaxWatch president and CEO, Dominic Calabro.

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GOP PREPARING FOR CONTESTED CONVENTION via Robert Costa and Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post – Republican officials and leading figures in the party’s establishment are now preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention as … Trump continues sit atop the polls and the presidential race … More than 20 of them convened … for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, where the prospect of Trump nearing next year’s nominating convention in Cleveland with a significant number of delegates dominated the discussion … The development represents a major shift for veteran Republican strategists, who until this month had spoken of a brokered convention only in the most hypothetical terms — and had tried to encourage a drama-free nomination by limiting debates and setting an earlier convention date.

FLORIDA GOP MUM ON DONALD TRUMP’S MUSLIM PLAN via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott has declined take a position, pro or con … [a] statement … from his spokeswoman, Jackie Schutz: “Governor Scott continues his focus on getting more information from President Obama about the Syrian refugees being placed in Florida by the federal government to ensure the safety of all those in our state. He has not made an endorsement in the presidential race and is focused on the security of Floridians from those who may wish us harm.”

BUT NOT THIS REPUBLICAN … JOLLY PLAYING MORE THAN ONE DONALD TRUMP CARD via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – “I rise today to call on … Trump to withdraw his candidacy for the White House,” Jolly said on the House floor …“It should be heartbreaking to every American that we have a front runner in the presidential race that suggests there will be a religious test for anybody who wishes to come to our shores.” But Jolly’s campaign also recognizes the power of Trump. “Donald Trump and I agree,” is the subject line on a Jolly fundraising email … “Donald Trump and I agree. Trump and I each speak out honestly and with conviction, we don’t worry about the political consequence, and we call it like we see it. We just see things differently.”

JEB TAPS BUSH ALUMNI FOR EARLY-STATE PUSH via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO – Starting next month, Bush’s campaign will deploy hundreds of his brother and father’s former White House aides to early primary states to assist in canvassing and get-out-the-vote efforts. The plan … is taking on new urgency as the primary season grows closer. In a conference call … with Bush alumni, Sally Bradshaw, Bush’s longtime senior adviser, delivered an upbeat assessment of the campaign’s progress, while Josh BoltenGeorge W. Bush’s former White House chief of staff, pumped up Jeb Bush as the right leader for the times. The message, according to one person on the call: We need you.

— “Marco Rubio lands billionaire GOP donor Ken Griffin” via Theodore Schleifer of CNN

— “Republican donor Art Pope backs Rubio for president” via Colin Campbell of the News & Observer

IF ASKED, ALEX SINK WOULD GLADLY SERVE AS PART OF A HILLARY CLINTON ADMINISTRATION via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “I think the big take-away from is just how impressive Hillary Clinton is,” said Sink … “How well prepared, how well spoken. And she’s correct on all the issues that are important to people like me. People came away just shaking their heads about how strong she is.” There was also buzz … that it would make sense if Clinton were to be elected to choose Sink to serve in her administration, possibly as an ambassador. Would the former Florida CFO be up for that? “Oh, sure! … If the president of the United States calls and says I need you to serve the country, I would absolutely consider it,” before later adding that no such talks have occurred and that her support for the former first lady is unconditional in this campaign.

SPOTTED at a fundraiser Wednesday for Carlos Lopez Cantera, hosted by Cesar Conda former Chief of Staff to Marco Rubio), Sally CanfieldSusan Nelson of Navigators Global, and Jose Fuentes of The Puerto Rico Statehood Council, among others. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz Bilart, and Ileana Ros-Lethinen attended, as did Rick Alcalde of Potomac Partners, Phil Anderson and Chris Cox of Navigators, Manus Cooney of American Continental Group, Rita Norton of AmerisourceBergen, and Steve Watson of Loews Corporation.

SON OF PROMINENT HILLARY CLINTON DONOR MULLING MIAMI CONGRESSIONAL RUN via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Andrew Korge, son of Hillary Clinton fundraiser Chris Korge, has called several financial backers to see if they’d support his rookie candidacy for Congress against … Carlos Curbelo … already challenged by Democrat Annette Taddeo … The younger Korge acknowledged … “Numerous community leaders, Democratic donors, and citizens have encouraged me to consider several options … After knocking on more than a thousand doors over the past few months, it is also very clear that people are hungry for leaders who will work to strengthen the middle class, provide a living wage, protect our environment from big oil’s destructive ways, and have a 21st century view of foreign policy … With all of that said, I have not made a decision yet. I first need to determine what is best for my family and for the citizens I seek to represent. Once I do this, I will make a final decision.” Korge is pointing to the $365,000 in the bank for his campaign and state PAC as a sign that he could outraise Taddeo … It’s not guaranteed that donors for Korge’s state race would stick with him, though, which is why he’s reaching out to them. … the GOP would be worried about the Korge family’s wealth and extensive fundraising network.

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CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS GALORE — State candidates and political committees face a Thursday deadline for filing reports showing campaign-finance activity through Nov. 30.

RICK SCOTT’S PAC GROWS BY $116,300 IN NOVEMBER via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Let’s Get to Work … added $116,300 to its coffers in November … raised close to $50 million since its creation in April 2014. Panama City rail management executive Michael Durden topped the list with the largest individual contribution during November, contributing $10,000. Two other companies also sent in $10,000 contributions in November: West Palm Beach-based Behavioral Health Innovations, and Trumbull Bottled Water … run by 26-year-old Jay Trumbull, who represents Panama City in Florida’s 6th House District.

ADAM PUTNAM POLITICAL COMMITTEE REPORTS $129K FOR NOVEMBER via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – [Florida Grown] … reported $129,000 in fundraising for November, down from nearly $694,000 the month before … two top contributors were the Florida Medical Association and Ware Oil and Supply Co. of Perry, a petroleum products wholesaler, with $25,000 each. Other contributions include $15,000 from Comcast, $10,000 from AT&T and $5,000 from Florida Prosperity Fund, a political committee chaired by Ryan D. Tyson, vice president of Political Operations for Associated Industries of Florida.

— “Finance reports reveal biggest election battles brewing in the Florida Legislature” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Contrasting fundraising styles for Sarasota state Senate candidates” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

— “Matt Hudson raises $40K for SD 23 race in November, opponents fizzle” via Florida Politics

— “Jamey Westbrook loans campaign $25 K. for race against Brad Drake” via POLITICO

— “HD 12 fundraising sending mixed messages” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “Travis Cummings has 3rd straight 5-figure fundraising month in HD 18” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

AMID SPEAKER’S RACE SHUFFLE, MIKE MILLER JOINS JAY FANT’S POLITICAL COMMITTEE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The two also happen to support Orlando Republican Eric Eisnaugle’s bid to become House speaker in 2021. Eisnaugle supporters have said they will recruit pledges from the not-yet-elected 2016 class, so the race is not over … “We are friends. I like Jay, I trust Jay,” Miller said. “This way we can just make sure we maintain the website and the details of the committee together.” One day before last week’s vote, it had been rumored that Miller was going to flip and support [ChrisSprowls’ speaker bid, a move that never occurred.

ANDY GARDINER HOPES TO AVOID HEALTH CARE FUNDING DRAMAS OF LAST SESSION via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics –Next year the [federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] has promised to cut an additional $400 million as it follows through with a planned phase out of the [low-income] pool. The feds want to nudge Florida into expanding Medicaid to more poor and working poor under the Affordable Care Act, a move staunchly opposed by the House’s GOP leadership. “The question next is, do we put more general revenue in? Do we look at the (funding) formulas?” said Gardiner, an Orlando hospital executive. He said he has asked … Rene Garcia, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, to start running numbers early. “You have to run all these models; it’s a very detailed, technical process to know what the reimbursements should be,” he said. “What we eventually do, I think it’s too early to tell. You have to look at what areas will have increased spending … We’re going to have to make some decisions.”

FLORIDA NURSERIES POST THEIR REQUIRED PERFORMANCE BONDS via Joe Reedy of the Associated Press – All five have posted their $5 million performance bonds mandated by the Department of Health … Hackney Nursery Company in Quincy (Northwest), Alachua’s Chestnut Hill Tree Farm (Northeast), Costa Nursery Farms of Miami (Southeast), Alpha Foliage in Homestead (Southwest) and Winter Garden’s Knox Nursery (Central). “We truly believe that this is a revolution in patient wellness, and Florida is setting the national standard for a responsible, patient-focused program,” said Susan Driscoll, president of Surterra Therapeutics and managing director of Alpha Foliage. “We see a big shift in patient preferences toward all-natural treatments, and cannabis extracts are at the heart of this trend.”

YEAR-ROUND DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME? A LONGSHOT, BUT ONE FLORIDA LAWMAKER IS TRYING via Katie Mettler of the Tampa Bay Times – It’s cruel, really, to suffer through summer only to have the sunlight snatched away just as the weather turns nice … Kristin Jacobs wants to do something about it … proposed the “Sunshine Protection Act,” a bill that would make daylight saving time the way of life in Florida all year long. “It always drives me crazy every year when the time changes.” She’s not alone … “Yes please,” one woman wrote on Facebook in response to Jacobs’ bill. “Please please please please do this already!!!!!!!” wrote another.

WHILE ENVIRONMENTALISTS CRITICIZE WATER POLICY PLANS, THEY DRAW DEFENDER IN ADAM PUTNAM via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – … 106 organizations and businesses … signed onto a letter sent to Senate President Andy Gardiner … and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli … that cite problems with the major water proposals, (SB 552, HB 7005) … Putnamsaid the legislation assured that “There will be measurable progress toward … closing the gap of a 1.3 billion gallons per day shortfall of water to support people, agriculture and the environment …  This bill is a heavy lift. It fell apart last year because it is a significant water policy that is comprehensive and statewide in nature … If it were easy, it would be sailing through. It does things, which is why it is meriting a lot of scrutiny.”

FLORIDA TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL WELCOMES NEW SECURITY & IT SERVICES MEMBERS via Florida Politics – Symantec, SignalVault and Computers That Werk are the latest security and information technology firms to join the Florida Technology Council … [which] advocates on behalf of the state’s information technology industry before both the Florida Legislature and Executive branches. “I’m thrilled to welcome our newest members to the FTC,” said chair Vivian Myrtetus. “From established brands to emerging leaders, these companies will bring valuable knowledge and experience as we enter the 2016 Legislative Session with the momentum we need to achieve our policy goals.”

TOP FUNDRAISER ASHLEY ROSS WILL SERVE AS FINANCE DIRECTOR FOR SENATE MAJORITY via Florida Politics – Ross, the top fundraiser for Senate President-designate Joe Negron, will serve as Finance Director for the Florida Republican Senate Campaign Committee … [her return] comes after a brief stint working directly for Negron’s political committee during the Negron vs. Jack Latvala scrum for the Senate Presidency.


Brian BallardRichard Anderson, Ballard Parters: Ucompass

Christopher DudleyCaitlin Brongel, Southern Strategy Group: Utica College; Windsor Properties

Thomas DeRita, Jordan Connors Group: City of Pahokee

William RubinChristopher FinkbeinerHeather Turnbull, The Rubin Group: Insikt, Inc.

Paul Hawkes: Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges

Armando Jose Ibarra, Ai Advisory: Florida RACCA

Lisa Miller, Lisa Miller and Associates: Arcadis

William Moulton: Department of Management Services

HAPPENING TOMORROW – Pam BondiAdam Goodman & The Victory Group are hosting a special book signing with New York Times Bestselling Author, and “Fox & Friends” co-host, Brian Kilmeade from 9-10:30 a.m. at Tampa’s Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd. He’ll be signing copies of his newest book, “Thomas Jefferson and The Tripoli Pirates,” which has risen to #2 on the NYT Bestseller List and #1 on Amazon for the world history category. Kilmeade is bestselling author of George Washington’s Secret Six and co-host of Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” with Steve Doocy and Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA  Trimmel Gomes’ newest episode of The Rotunda checks in with Donald Trump’s hardcore hater, Rick Wilson. The Republican Strategists was among the first to warn against the media’s fascination with Trump, but with his controversial proposals becoming an issue of national security, others in the GOP are now starting to listen up. Gomes also sits down for a chat with Peter Schorsch, one of the most influential people in Florida politics. The entrepreneur discusses the growth of his new media empire, as well as the release of his third edition of INFLUENE Magazine featuring 100 of the most powerful people in Florida politics.


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Inter-municipal conflict is at hand as Sarasota County Commissioners’ plan to relocate a shelter for the homeless from downtown into historically black Newtown has run afoul of some city leaders. Mayor Willie Shaw and City Manager Tom Barwin discuss the issue with host Dr. Ed James.

Facing Florida with Mike Vasilinda: Two Florida State University students shot at by campus gunman Myron May tell their stories.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Republican state Sen. John Legg, reporter Chris O’Donnell of the Tampa Tribune, retired USF-St. Pete professor Dr. Darryl Paulson, and Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida.

On Point with Shannon Ogden, on WFCN in Jacksonville: Florida Times-Union columnist Ron Littlepage on the Everbank Stadium improvements passed this week, a replay of a past segment on Islam and American politics, and an interview with a local Jacksonville woman whose design was selected as Florida’s official ornament for the White House Christmas Tree.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando:  Political operative Roger Stone talks 2016 presidential politics, League of Women Voters President Pamela Goodman discusses the Florida Supreme Court decision on Congressional district maps that are now official, plus PolitiFact rates a recent Ted Cruz claim about GOP leadership.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Sean Pittman, Steve Vancore, Ed Moore and Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT:  Lesley McKinney with us – a local attorney on gun laws in California compares with Florida’s law following the tragedy in San Bernardino, state Sen. Rob Bradley on changes to Stand Your Ground and medical marijuana. Plus, UNF’s Dr. Matthew Corrigan discusses 2016 elections.

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.

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