Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – Jan. 20

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

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.


The race for the Republican nomination is heating up, and Florida’s favorite sons are spending the weeks leading up to the first nominating contests rallying support in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are campaigning in New Hampshire this week. It’s a place where Bush has spent a considerable amount of time, hopeful the state’s voters will take to his brand of establishment conservatism better than they have in Iowa.

Bush and his allies have poured millions into advertising in New Hampshire; he has attended dozens of town halls and forums; and friends and supporters from the Sunshine State have bundled up and campaigned on his behalf in the Granite State. But to say it isn’t working might be putting it mildly. Despite his best efforts, or perhaps because of them, Bush continues to lag behind in the polls.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found Republicans across the country had a negative opinion of the former governor. Republicans have cited his famous last name and his support for Common Core as some of the reasons they’re wary of supporting him.

While Bush may have much to overcome to get closer to the front of the pack, Rubio has been much closer to the prize. He’s in third place in IowaNew Hampshire and national polls — a position he’s been in for several weeks.

The first-term senator has been crisscrossing the country campaigning in early voting states, with his campaign boasting big crowds at every stop. Rubio has taken aim at Ted Cruz, calling him out during the recent debate for his flip-flops. A super PAC supporting Rubio is set to air advertisements in early voting states hitting Cruz.

Bush and Rubio have long shared supporters, both in Florida and in the establishment wing of the national GOP. At this point many donors are just waiting to see which pull ahead for good. Some Bush donors have said they would back Rubio if Bush is no longer in the race.

With less than two weeks before the first nominating contest, supporters will be watching for a stand-out moment from both men in hopes of pulling ahead before Florida’s winner-takes-all GOP primary on March 15.

REPUBLICAN VOTERS SAY THE CLOCK IS TICKING ON BUSH’S WOULD-BE COMEBACK via Michael Bender of Bloomberg Politics – Bush listened and nodded as a man … listed four separate reasons that the son and brother of former presidents may fail to follow the family into the White House … (1) Bush’s support for Common Core … (2) his call to legalize many of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants at a time when the Republican front-runner … Trump, says he’d deport them all … (3) the anxiety among voters about a third Bush president and (4) the “low energy” criticism from Trump that the former Florida governor has been unable to shake. By now, Bush knows the list by heart, and even saw fit … to volunteer a fifth obstacle … that he’s widely considered a key member of the Republican establishment at time when the party’s voters are seeking change. New Hampshire could either prove to be a miraculous springboard or the final trap door for Bush’s political fortunes. With just three weeks remaining until the primary, the one-time front-runner who has plummeted in the polls is finding oddsmakers and even would-be supporters doubtful about his viability.

JEB BUSH’S CANDIDACY DEFINED BY DONALD TRUMP via James Hohmann of the Washington Post – Bush has embraced with gusto his role as the anti-Trump … [He] has more aggressively gone after The Donald in New Hampshire than any other candidate …  His stump speech is basically a rebuttal of Trumpism … decrying “grandiose talk” and then trying to channel some of what Trump has tapped into. Wading into process, Bush makes the case to voters that Trump would never win a general election because he has alienated more than half the electorate, including women, Hispanics and ex-POWs … This assertiveness has won over some … But Trump overshadows Bush everywhere he goes, making it significantly harder to convey the affirmative case for why people should support him. Even when his name was not mentioned, six of the 16 questions Bush fielded during a town hall in this suburb of Nashua over the long weekend boiled down to some variation of: What about Trump? A psychologist from Pennsylvania told Bush that Trump is a narcissist and a sociopath. “Doctor, thank you for the prescription,” Bush replied. “I appreciate it.”

BUSH GAINS GROUND IN SOUTH CAROLINA AFTER DEBATE via Daniel White of Time Magazine – Bush is surging in South Carolina, according to a new poll, but rivals Trump and Cruz still have him beat in the state. The former Florida governor has seen his numbers drop with the rise of front-runner Trump, but his support is climbing after Thursday’s Republican debate in North Charleston. Bush was in third place with 13 percent, behind Trump’s 32 percent and Cruz’s 18 percent, according to a poll conducted by OpinionSavvy.

BUSH PAC RESERVES $10.8 MILLION FOR ADS IN SEVEN STATES WITH MARCH CONTESTS via Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post – Right to Rise USA, the super PAC backing Bush said it has reserved roughly $10.8 million in advertising time in seven states holding primaries or caucuses in March.

— “Jeb Bush mispronounces the name of Obama’s daughter” via Nick Gass of POLITICO

CHRIS CHRISTIE SAYS RUBIO CAN’T HANDLE HILLARY CLINTON via Zeke Miller of Time magazine – Christie says rival Rubio is inexperienced, dependent on scripts and that a key moment in last week’s debate proved that the Florida Senator does not have what it takes to confront Democrat Clinton in a general election … the most telling moment of the debate came after Rubio had answered a question from host Neil Cavuto about their recent verbal war of words. “When I went to answer him, he couldn’t look at me in the eye … and he never came back at me until he went back to New Hampshire, when I wasn’t there to answer him.” Christie saw Rubio’s avoidance of confrontation as a sign of weakness. “I think that’s just a sign of his inexperience, and if he can’t look me in the eye, he’s not going to be able to look Hillary Clinton in the eye, he’s certainly not going to be able to look Vladimir Putin in the eye.”

RUBIO TRIES TO SIPHON OFF TED CRUZ’S EVANGELICAL SUPPORT IN IOWA via Samantha-Jo Roth of HuffPost Politics — Rubio hasn’t given up on the state’s influential evangelical block, campaigning at Dordt College … a region known for its heavily concentrated population of social conservatives … he’s working to appeal to a wider range of the Republican constituency, trying to siphon off some of … Cruz‘s support, who is leading in most recent Iowa polls and has made a heavy play for the state’s evangelical northwest … seeking backing from at least one pastor in each county.

RUBIO’S TEAM PLOTS PATH TO NOMINATION: THIRD IN IOWA, SECOND IN N.H., FIRST IN S.C. via Tim Alberta of the National Review – Rubio and his senior aides have begun sharing a specific blueprint for how he can secure the Republican presidential nomination. According to multiple Rubio allies … the senator’s team has settled on an unconventional path to winning the GOP primary contest. The strategy, dubbed “3-2-1” by some briefed on it, forecasts a sequence in which Rubio takes third place in Iowa on February 1, finishes second in New Hampshire on February 9, and wins South Carolina on February 20.

MILLENNIALS “SPEAK TRUTH” TO SUPPORT MARCO RUBIO via YouTube – A new Rubio television ad features self-described millennials talking about politics, poking at smartphones and toting bikes – while professing to not be self-absorbed. An interesting spot.

PRO-MARCO RUBIO AD: CRUZ HAS A CANADIAN TAX PLAN via Nick Gass of POLITICO – A super PAC backing Rubio invokes Canada in a new spot attacking Cruz – but not in the way you think. “‘What’s Canadian about Ted Cruz?’ asks the narrator in (an ad) criticizing the Texas senator for his value-added tax-plan, which it compares to schemes “in Canada and European socialist countries.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSBush attends the Rivier University Business Leader’s Series in Nashua, New Hampshire, to be followed by a town hall in Keene. Rubio will campaign in New Hampshire in the morning before traveling to Washington D.C. for Senate business.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 325 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget, and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers.  Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

SARAH PALIN ENDORSES DONALD TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT via Ben Schreckinger of POLITICO – Palin endorsed Trump … and is expected to appear alongside Trump … at his rally in Iowa, where the billionaire businessman is neck-and-neck in the polls with Cruz. “I’m proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for president,” Palin said in a statement … While Palin’s popularity has waned since her 2008 vice presidential campaign, the former Alaska governor still has a substantial following … Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told CNN that he would be “deeply disappointed” if Palin backed Trump. “I think it’d be a blow to Sarah Palin, because Sarah Palin has been a champion for the conservative cause, and if she was going to endorse Donald Trump, sadly, she would be endorsing someone who’s held progressive views all their life on the sanctity of life, on marriage, on partial-birth abortion.” Cruz himself, however, expressed affection for Palin. “I love Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin is fantastic, without her friendship and support I wouldn’t be in the Senate today … So regardless of what Sarah decides to do in 2016, I will always remain a big, big fan.”

HOW TRUMP DEFEATS HILLARY CLINTON via Ben Schreckinger of POLITICO – The rest of Trump‘s path to general-election victory … looks like this: After winning the nomination on the first ballot, Trump unifies the party he has fractured behind him and reinvents himself as a pragmatic businessman and family man at the Republican National Convention. News of small-scale terror plots on American soil, foiled or successful, keep voters in a state of anxiety. Trump minimizes his losses with Hispanics by running Spanish-language ads highlighting his support for a strong military and take-charge entrepreneurial attitude, especially in the Miami and Orlando media markets. He draws the starkest possible outsider-insider contrast with Hillary Clinton and successfully tars her with her husband’s sexual history. If he does all that, holds Mitt Romney‘s states, and drives extraordinary levels of working-class white voter turnout in the suburbs and exurbs of Ohio and Virginia, as well as in the Florida panhandle and Jacksonville, he can flip those three Obama states and rack up 266 electoral votes. Winning any one of Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Nevada or New Mexico would put him over the top and make Donald John Trump the 45th president of the United States.

MUST-READBEWARE A GOP CALENDAR FRONT-LOADED WITH STATES FRIENDLY TO TRUMP AND CRUZ via David Wasserman of – It’s possible that Trump and Cruz will steamroll their way through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and dominate the so-called “SEC Primary” … Yet even if that happens, it’s still possible that Rubio (or another more establishment-friendly candidate) could end up with the nomination, thanks to quirks of the GOP’s complex delegate math. Here are five takeaways and tips for cozying up to the GOP math: 1. Each top GOP contender has a very different path to the nomination, but keep an eye on where those paths converge. 2. Beware an early, modest lead for Trump or Cruz. Our estimates show that Cruz would need 555 delegates heading into the March 15 primaries to keep pace for the nomination … Trump would need 469. However, Rubio would need only 371. 3. Delegate “thresholds” and “triggers” can make or break candidacies. Most proportional states require candidates to hit a minimum threshold of support to win delegates. 4. If any early state is critical, it’s probably New Hampshire. A Trump or Cruz win in Iowa could add to moderate Republicans’ urgency to coalesce behind an alternative. 5. It’s quite possible that no candidate will end up with 1,237 delegates by June. Early on in the season, it’s likely that no single candidate will hit his target numbers. That’s because with a crowded field of contenders, it will be difficult for even leading candidates to amass large numbers of delegates. But the longer the race goes without Trump, Cruz or Rubio coming close to hitting his cumulative targets, the higher the odds of a contested Cleveland convention.

MEANWHILE … INSPECTOR GENERAL: CLINTON EMAILS HAD INTEL FROM MOST SECRETIVE, CLASSIFIED PROGRAMS via Catherine Herridge and Pamela K. Browne of Fox News – Clinton‘s emails on her unsecured, homebrew server contained intelligence from the U.S. government’s most secretive and highly classified programs, according to an unclassified letter from a top inspector general to senior lawmakers. … (The letter) laid out the findings of a recent comprehensive review by intelligence agencies that identified ‘several dozen’ additional classified emails – including specific intelligence known as ‘special access programs’ (SAP).

OBSCURE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WANTS ON FLORIDA BALLOT via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Rocky De La Fuente Guerra, a San Diego real estate developer, filed his suit … in Tallahassee federal court. A group of seven Florida voters is listed as co-plaintiffs. They say they will be deprived by not being able to vote for De La Fuente in the state’s Presidential Preference Primary on March 15. De La Fuente is bolstered by $25 million he got in a settlement after resolving late last year a decades-old land use lawsuit against the city of San Diego. At the time, it was the oldest litigation on the city’s books. He’s been able to get on the ballot in 20 states, according to reports. By comparison, fellow Democratic candidate …. Martin O’Malley is now on the ballot in only 18 states.

DAVID JOLLY NOT FLINCHING AT PUSHBACK TO HIS FUNDRAISING BAN IDEA via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics – Jolly’s plan isn’t likely to be met with open arms. Jolly, a Republican, said he hasn’t spoken with party leadership about the measure yet. Asked whether that’s a call he’s looking forward to having, Jolly laughed and implied it might not be the most pleasant conversation. “I am concerned about pushback from a lot of people,” he said. But Jolly also said he doesn’t care … He plans to “blast” the proposal to his colleagues in Congress ahead of next week’s session beginning. He hopes to earn bipartisan support for the measure … he’s spoken with five colleagues about his plan – three Republicans and two Democrats. He said two of the Republicans seemed on board. Both Democrats initially showed support for the bill, but one dropped off for reasons Jolly said he didn’t know. Jolly wouldn’t say who the members were. He hopes to gain 10 cosponsors to the bill. Jolly isn’t surprised by the claim that this bill is just a political stunt. “Every political consultant in the country would tell me what I’m doing is foolish,” Jolly said. “People standing behind me would tell you this is absolutely the right thing to do.”

HOW IT PLAYED: DAVID JOLLY SWEARS OFF FUNDRAISING  The Daytona Beach News-JournalA Jolly good idea – “Although that doesn’t address the issue of money in politics … Jolly’s proposal has populist appeal — as he describes it, ‘Put down the phone and get to work.’” The HillRepublican proposes ban on lawmakers asking for donations – “… he won’t call donors asking for money or sign his name to any fundraising missives, instead leaving money-related duties to his staff.” Creative Loafing TampaJolly files another bill that would require Congress to do more actual work – “Of course, it’s clear … the bill doesn’t have much of a chance, given that it’d drastically change the way Congress functions (or, more accurately, doesn’t function).” WFLA NEWS CHANNEL 8, Jolly proposes ban on fundraising for members of Congress– “Americans wonder why we haven’t defeated ISIS, secured our border, provided health care for veterans, or reduced the national debt. Here’s why. Too many in Congress are more focused on raising money than solving the problems people elected them to fix.” The Washington PostSuddenly, swearing off fundraising is the thing to do in Congress – “… perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s happening now … Bashing billionaires is popular on the campaign trail … Super PACs can do the heavy lifting … Raising money is a never-ending, monotonous job …” Tampa TribuneJolly uncertain how fundraising idea will play in Washington – “… there is ‘what I call a quiet anger’ among lawmakers who deplore their obligation to spend time out of the office soliciting campaign money for themselves or their party.” The Daily BeastSenate Candidate Refuses To Raise Money, And Still Thinks He Can Win – “Florida’s one of the most expensive states to run in, and Jolly’s move — or political stunt — will be a test case … whether they need to fall in line to stay in office.” Associated PressFlorida lawmaker swears off fundraising – “There are signs that tactic is trickling down the ballot, with talk in Congress of a ‘campaign finance caucus’ … federal lawmakers speaking out against money in politics sound a bit self-loathing as they do so.” Think ProgressA Republican Congressman’s Surprisingly Smart Plan To Keep Lawmakers Away From Their Donors – “It is unlikely that Jolly’s proposal would be upheld by the current Supreme Court … Chief Justice John Roberts wrote … an opinion that also held that someone seeking to defend a solicitation ban ‘faces a demanding task’ under the First Amendment …“

***A special message from Florida’s horsemen: While legislators debate using hard-earned taxpayer dollars for corporate relocation incentives, Florida employers who’ve been hard at work for decades could lose everything, thanks to “decoupling”— a Big Casino cash grab and gambling expansion plan tucked inside the Seminole Compact. It seems senseless to kill established Florida businesses, while spending public money in hopes new business may materialize. But Florida could do just that when “decoupling” leaves horse racing investors with NO WAY to do business and NO CHANCE to recoup financial return.  Gambling policy should be about growing Florida’s economy. Not padding the pockets of Big Casinos. Florida’s horsemen oppose decoupling in ANY form.***

UH-OH: LAWMAKERS COULD HAVE LESS MONEY TO SPEND THIS YEAR via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – State economists met Tuesday to draw up new forecasts to predict how much the state will collect in taxes. The forecasts will be used by state legislators to draw up this year’s budget.

Preliminary forecasts drawn up by the economists predict the state’s main budget account will only grow slightly more than two percent during the fiscal year that ends in June. Those forecasts estimate growth of around 4 percent in the 2016-17 fiscal year. If the forecasts hold, legislators could have about $400 million less to spend. Back in September economists predicted an overall budget surplus of $635 million.

BIG BEAR GOV’S OFFICE: “Governor Scott remains confident in his $1 billion tax cut package because while updated REC numbers show that national economic factors have led to a projected forecast of a minor reduction of $388.5 million, recent estimates also show that if the Legislature chooses to adopt the Seminole Compact the Governor signed, it would bring in $2.3 billion over eight years.  We are pleased to also learn that we still have a significant increase in revenues of over $1 billion in fiscal year 2016-17. Additionally, most actual revenues end up higher than revenue estimates.”

MAMA BEAR SEN PREZ: “Today’s revenue estimate is less than our economists previously predicted, reflecting the recent turbulence in our national and global economies. While Florida is feeling these impacts, our economy is growing at a steady rate, the private sector is creating jobs at a pace that exceeds the rest of the nation, and our state revenues remain higher than this time last year. These factors give us reason to be optimistic; however, it is still too early to tell if the temporary slowdown reflected in the new estimate will prove to be correct or whether it is a signal of a long-term downward trend. Today’s updated estimate is helpful as we continue to develop the Senate budget. As our economy and population grow, the demand for critical functions of government also increases. Our goal in drafting the Senate budget is to prioritize funding to care for the most vulnerable and other programmatic structural needs of our state. We are also working to strike a balance that reconciles our desire to enhance broad-based tax relief, economic development and other pro-growth policies with our responsibility to set aside ample reserves that allow our state to respond to the potential for continued instability in other economies.”

GOLDILOCKS SPEAKER: “The revenue estimating conference results remind us that we continue to be in recovery, but we are certainly still bouncing back from the unprecedented recession. Fortunately, we have instituted conservative budgeting principles year after year. We will be able to make adjustments to our spending plan which will come out in the next few weeks.”

SCOTT’S COMMISSION ON HEALTH CARE ISSUES OBSERVATIONS via Joe Reedy of the Associated Press – Commission chairman Carlos Beruff said … the nine-member commission has more questions than answers after months of studying the health care industry. “We’ve had lots of discussions. There’s a lot more work to do in health care. It’s just the beginning,” Beruff said. The six-page draft summary of observations follows eight months, 15 public meetings and testimony from numerous public and health care professionals. In addition to observations of a lack of transparency and cost controls, the panel found, among other things, a persistent influence of government regulation in health care. Among the other issues that both chambers are considering: Promoting access to care by diminishing or eliminating certificates of need. Loosening rules for new or replacement hospitals in rural areas. Expanding the use of alternate site ambulatory surgery centers. Limiting the use of taxpayer funds for compensation packages to hospital executives.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight job creation with a 10 a.m. news conference at OCTEX, 901 Sarasota Center Blvd. in Sarasota.

***Get a taste of The Edison! We offer internationally-inspired cuisine and stunning views overlooking the beauty of Cascades Park. Drop by on your next lunch break for a change of scenery, or enjoy a relaxing dinner with friends! Book your reservation today.***

GOV’S APPOINTEES UP FOR REVIEW — Starting at 10 a.m., the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee plans to review 36 executive appointees for confirmation, including Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson, Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold and South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Pete Antonacci. Also, Secretary of State Ken Detzner is slated to give an update on preparations for the Online Voter Registration System. Online voter registration was enacted last year in Florida, but isn’t set to go live till October 2017.

BALANCE BILLING MEASURE MOVES AHEAD DESPITE RESERVATIONS via Florida Politics – The deceptively simple 11-page bill was the subject of over an hour of testimony and debate.  Insurance and business groups generally supported it while many physicians and providers’ groups, with some exceptions, opposed it. The proposal – HB 221, filed by Rep. Carlos Trujillo – would give insurers the discretion to charge a “reasonable” fee to bill providers when patients go out-of-network, which is common in emergency room situations. Essentially all legislators and testifiers agreed on one basic principle of the bill: hold the patient – one third of the patient/provider/insurer triad – harmless. But for the other two legs of the triangle, the devil was in the details.

DRONE LEGISLATION ADVANCES IN SENATE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The Senate commerce and tourism committee approved a measure (SB 642) related to drones. The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, updates the state’s Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act to include liability language. The measure previously said the owner and operator of the drone would be liable for damages based on the joint and several liability doctrines. However, … the bill was amended to remove that language. Instead, it now classifies a drone as “a dangerous instrumentality” and calls on the owners and operators of drones to “exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries of others.” The UAS Association of Florida opposed the change.

HOUSE, SENATE DIFFER ON UBER RULES via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – The Florida Senate’s Banking and Insurance Committee passed a bill requiring drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services to have the same level of insurance as taxi drivers, and to have it all the time. That stands in contrast to model legislation agreed upon by the insurance industry and ride-hailing companies that has already been passed in at least 20 states, and cleared its final committee in the House … The House version requires more insurance — $1 million worth – but only when the driver has passengers in the vehicle and the Uber or Lyft app is on. The Senate version was similar until the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. David Simmons … made the bill more taxi-friendly.

SENATOR PUSHES FDLE PROBES FOR ALL POLICE-INVOLVED DEATHS via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – “When you have agencies investigating themselves there is lack of public trust, and this bill would increase public trust by bringing in FDLE,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Geraldine Thompson … flanked by a minister and the president of the Tallahassee NAACP. The three-paragraph bill (HB 933/SB 810) would also require heads of law enforcement agencies to report to FDLE within 24 hours if an officer’s use of force results in someone’s death. If there is an investigation into the use of force, the bill would make the head of the agency provide the results of the investigation to FDLE within seven days.

SEMINOLES LAUNCH AD OFFENSIVE BEFORE FIRST COMPACT HEARING via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The tribe said it bought airtime for two 30-second television ads to run statewide. “’Sovereign” highlights the Seminole Tribe’s commitment to Florida and “Letter” highlights excerpts from … Scott’s letter regarding the new Seminole Gaming Compact … The ads will run on broadcast and cable television stations in Tampa, Miami, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Mobile-Pensacola, Tallahassee, Panama City, and Gainesville, and on the Web. That Compact is facing an uphill slog among legislators concerned over its gambling expansion possibilities, with some suggesting that such a significant rewrite is needed, it won’t be ready for a vote till the 2017 Legislative Session.

NO CASINOS SEES GAMBLING DEAL THAT INCLUDES PBKC SLOTS AS AN “ECONOMIC PARASITE” ON FLORIDA via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – John Sowinski, No Casinos president, called gambling an “economic parasite in our state,” arguing against advocates who have said it will add jobs, brings additional services and pull more tax dollars into the state. “More gambling would not add to our economy, it would prey on it,” Sowinski said at a Tallahassee news conference. No Casinos said Scott’s compact, which needs approval from state lawmakers, allows more gambling across the state, along with additional Seminole Tribal casinos, with more games and thousands of new slot machines envisioned for seven locations, including the Brighton reservation in Glades County near Lake Okeechobee.

FANTASY SPORTS INDUSTRY GOES ON FIVE-MONTH, $220,000 SPENDING SPREE TO INFLUENCE STATE LEGISLATORS via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Since August, fantasy sports companies have written 49 checks totaling $220,000 to draft some of the biggest players in the Florida Legislature to assist them. Political committees run by current and future Florida House Speakers, Republicans and Democrats, and budget chairmen in both the House and the Senate are among the recipients. In Florida, there is no active attempt to shut down the games as forms of gambling, but there are enough questions about the state’s regulations that some daily fantasy operators, notably Yahoo, bar Floridians from playing the games. FanDuel has handed 14 checks worth $26,000 since Nov. 18. The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign received $12,500. In December … FanDuel gave out $2,500 each to political committees run by Reps. Jose Oliva … and Sens Lizbeth Benacquisto … and Rene Garcia … DraftKings … handed out $26,500 since Nov. 18. That includes $12,500 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and $2,500 checks to Oliva’s and Benacquisto’s committees.

DON GAETZ TO HOSPITAL COMMISSION: TRANSPARENCY ALONE WON’T INCREASE HEALTH ACCESS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – “Accurately and fairly reporting to a hungry man without money the true prices on the menu that he can’t afford in a restaurant he can’t get to doesn’t mean he’ll get to eat,” … Gaetz … told commission members … “Posting the price list doesn’t by itself reduce cost or provide access to care.” Gaetz was sent to the commission, created by Scott last year, by Senate President Andy Gardiner … for their final meeting. Gaetz, who said he supports a price transparency bill by Sen. Rob Bradley … insists that won’t actually affect access. It’s a common refrain from Senate Republicans, who last year voted to expand Medicaid in Florida.

BILL WOULD REQUIRE STRICTER STANDARDS FOR ABORTION CLINICS via William March of the Associated Press – House Bill 233 passed on a party-line vote in its first of three House committee hearings … It requires clinics that offer second-trimester abortions to meet the same building code standards as hospitals and ambulatory surgery clinics. Advocates say it’s aimed at protecting women’s health and safety, but opponents say it’s simply an attempt to put abortion clinics out of business by imposing burdensome government regulations.

CAMPUS-CARRY BILL COMES WITH HEFTY PRICE TAG, SCHOOLS SAY via Gabrielle Russon and Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Florida universities and colleges would face millions of dollars in added expenses if lawmakers approve a bill this session to allow guns on campus, worried school officials say … extra costs would include hiring additional law enforcement officers — and, at state colleges, essentially creating police departments from scratch — and building storage areas for guns so students don’t leave them in empty dorm rooms during breaks, they said. “If this was to pass, we would have to look at various options, and one of those would be to transition to a police department,” said Tabatha McDonald, a spokeswoman for Palm Beach State College. “In the Florida college system, most of the institutions use security personnel, not sworn law enforcement.” She said that at Palm Beach State, the cost in salaries alone would increase from $1.23 million to $3.7 million. But Rep. Greg Steube … the measure’s sponsor, argued the schools wouldn’t need additional money and said the cost estimates are a tactic to fight the proposal.

BEST AND BRIGHTEST DEBATE COMES TO A HEAD WEDNESDAY IN FLORIDA SENATE via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – The debate over whether to extend Florida’s controversial teacher bonus based on high school entrance exam results returns to the forefront … as the Senate Education Committee presents what could be the most significant hurdle to the initiative. Republicans and Democrats alike on the panel have questioned the model promulgated by the Florida House, suggesting it has many flaws that might not warrant their support. Senators backed a one-year version of the plan last summer, as a last-minute addition to a budget bill. At one point, committee vice chairwoman Nancy Detert … called the concept “the worst bill of the year.” The Florida Education Association has sued over it, calling the measure discriminatory.


On: Rachel Keller is the new district secretary for state Rep. Janet Adkins.

Off: Joseph Zimmerman is no longer Adkins’ district secretary.

On: Zulema Delgado is the new legislative assistant in state Rep. Michael Bileca‘s office.

Off: Judith Ruiz is now Bileca’s legislative assistant.

On: Peter Campbell and Linda Segall are new district secretaries for state Rep. Katie Edwards.

Off: Christina Disbrow is no longer Edwards’ legislative assistant.

Off: Grace Martin is no longer district secretary for state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia.

Off and On: Isabela Dorneles move from being district secretary to legislative assistant for state Rep. Kristin Jacobs.

On: Victoria Habib will now be Jacobs’ new district secretary.

Off: Robert Vaughn is no longer the legislative assistant for state Rep. Kevin Rader.

On: Katherine Roe is now Rader’s new legislative assistant, and her position as district secretary was filled by Teresa Hadjipetrou.

On: Mamie Rubottom is the new district secretary for state Rep. Lake Ray.

WORST FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Jill Gran — “Gross! There is a man sitting in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee who is clipping his FINGERNAILS, and letting them drop to the floor. Ewww! Now he’s rubbing his shoe on them-seemingly to spread his nail clippings around.”

***Florida hospitals are on a mission. A mission to increase access to health care, improve the quality of care and reduce costs for patients. Find out more about the Florida Hospital Association’s Mission to Care and its new website that provides hospital prices and quality ratings in a consumer-friendly, searchable format.***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Moffitt Cancer Center and Adam Putnam will announce a new project focused on Florida’s food deserts and fighting cancer. Putnam and Moffitt President & CEO, Dr. Alan F. List, will announce the new collaboration in conjunction with the 11th Annual Moffitt Day at the State Capitol. News conference begins 11:30 a.m. in front of Putnam’s office in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol.

MUST-READ: “Craig Pittman’s go-to quote against hunting in state parks? An accused puppy killer” via Florida Politics

TOM GRADY LACKS MINIMUM EXPERIENCE FOR TOP INSURANCE JOB via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Early speculation about [KevinMcCarty‘s successor has focused on … Grady, a friend, supporter and Naples neighbor of Scott‘s and a former Republican legislator. It’s one of the most challenging jobs in state government … There’s just one problem. Grady doesn’t meet the minimum qualifications to run OIR that are clearly spelled out in state law. Grady is a former interim president of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. But he held that post for less than a year and when he applied for the permanent job, he didn’t get it — losing out to Barry Gilway, who had been president and CEO of a Seattle commercial insurance company. When the Florida Legislature created the OIR post following a voter-approved downsizing of the Cabinet, the law required at least five years of recent experience in the insurance industry or in simliar work in the state or federal government.

TWEET, TWEET: @NotMyUSA: Former legislator appointed to job, like tax collector, that has no relevant experience for said tax collector job, shouldn’t be tweeting from their tax payer subsidized job, about other unqualified former legislator under consideration for a government job

THOUSANDS RALLY FOR VOUCHERS, SCHOOL CHOICE AT CAPITOL via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – A group of nearly 10,000 students, parents and administrators of charter and non-public schools gathered in the Leon County Civic Center… ahead of a march and rally on the Capitol steps … the Alliance for School Choice, a national school choice advocacy group, wants lawmakers to support Florida’s school voucher program, which offers stipends to eligible parents to enroll their children in private or charter schools … eligibility standards are already scheduled to increase next year without legislative action. The main focus of this year’s rally is a lawsuit by teachers’ unions challenging the program. The Florida Education Association held a rally of about 2,000 teachers last week at the Capitol decrying low pay and an overreliance on standardized testing.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

FIRST ON FLORIDAPOLITICS.COM – FORMER LAWMAKER ED HOOPER FILING TO SUCCEED JACK LATVALA IN STATE SENATE via Florida Politics – “It just upset me … that a deal had been cut for a lifelong Pasco guy,” Hooper told The former lawmaker and Clearwater City Commissioner is referring to recent reports that Senate President-to-be Bill Galvano and other Republican leaders would back [JohnLegg in 2018 for Latvala’s seat if Legg would stand down from running in 2016 against Pasco’s Wilton Simpson, also in line to be Senate President. “John Legg is a nice man and I respect him very much, but over two thirds of this seat is located in Pinellas County,” Hooper said. “I just think that a deal ought not be cut to just hand it to him.”

LAURIE BARTLETT PRE-FILES FOR DISTRICT 4 HOUSE SEAT via Kari Barlow of – Bartlett, vice chairman of the Okaloosa County Republican Executive Committee, announced her campaign: “Like so many of you, I care deeply and am committed to continuing the good work for a bright future,” she said … described herself as a “no-nonsense, Reagan Republican” and fiscal conservative … Bartlett is the fifth person to file for the District 4 House Seat, which is currently held by state Rep. Matt Gaetz … Niceville residents Armand Izzo and Jonathan Tallman, Okaloosa County Commissioner Wayne Harris and Destin Mayor Mel Ponder also have pre-filed.

CANDIDATES LINE UP FOR VOLUSIA HOUSE SEAT via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – Republican Zenaida Denizac, a former two-term Deltona city commissioner … is seeking a seat in District 27 currently held by David Santiago, who has announced he is running for Congress. Also running is Donald Mair, a 45-year-old child-safety activist and paralegal studies student. Denizac is a longtime Spanish teacher at Pine Ridge High School in Deltona who touts her experience on the City Commission voting against tax increases and water and sewer rate increases, pushing for health-care facilities in Deltona and working for children with disabilities.

WILL WEATHERFORD INVESTMENT FIRM MAKES SPLASH WITH FIRST PUBLIC DEAL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Weatherford Partners, the venture capital group created by [the] former Florida House Speaker … and his two brothers … announced their first public deal, contributing to a $4.5 million funding round for a Missouri company. Weatherford’s firm invested in the Kansas City-based PayIt, which produces mobile apps for governments so people can pay for things such as licenses, taxes and traffic citations online. Weatherford Partners’ specific part of the funding round was not disclosed. Other investors were Advantage Capital Partners, Royal Street Ventures and Missouri Technology Corp.

GUS CORBELLA’S NEW COLLEAGUE via POLITICO Influence — Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is joining Greenberg Traurig as global chair of the firm’s Cybersecurity and Crisis Management Practice and senior adviser to Executive Chairman Richard A. RosenbaumMarc L. Mukasey, who was unit chief and deputy chief appellate attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and a former staff attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission, is also joining the firm’s white-collar practice.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ATTORNEY, LOBBYIST NATALIE KATO JOINS LEWIS, LONGMAN AND WALKER via Florida Politics – Kato has been hired as an associate in the Tallahassee office … Before joining LLW, Kato was a lobbyist at a leading Tallahassee consulting firm, a Southern State Policy Advocate for Human Rights Watch, and an attorney for the Florida Senate. She received her juris doctor from Barry University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University.

HAPPENING TODAY — MATT GAETZ & EVAN JENNE GO TO THE DOGS – Joe and Sara ClementsSandi PoredaErin VanSickleAngela Drzewiecki and Kate MacFall are hosting the Second Annual Red Dog Blue Dog fundraising event tonight to benefit animal rescue organizations. The fundraiser will feature state Reps. Matt Gaetz and Evan Jenne as guest bartender starting at 6 p.m. at Madison Social, 705 S. Woodward Ave. in Tallahassee. For more information, contact Sara Clements at

FACEBOOK POST OF THE DAY via the Florida Press Corps: “A note about press skits …You’ve likely already noticed that we’ve changed press skits seating and ticket pricing. But we also want to point out that the show format is changing this year, also. … As in the seating, we are going back to how things used to be. That means when the show begins at 7:30 p.m. you are going to want to be in your seat and ready for a funny and entertaining ride without interruptions! … We encourage you to arrive early (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) grab a drink, grab some food and get settled in. Because from the opening monologue forward you won’t want to miss one second!”

NEW ON THE TWITTERS one of Florida politics’ best public affairs shops, @VancoreJones.

ON WEDNESDAY’S GOVERNORS CLUB BUFFET MENU – Halfway through a truncated workweek, and the Governors Club offers legislators a superb selection of lunchtime delights, including: Italian Sausage & Tortellini Soup; Antipasti Flatbread Sandwich Board; Salad Bar & Caprese Salad; Chicken Piccata; Sirloin Tips with Mushrooms; Baked Salmon with White Wine Sauce; Fried calamari & Shrimp; Italian Vegetables and Butter Linguini, finishing with Assorted Mini Desserts.

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm. Visit to read about their growing team, success stories and case studies.***


A SOLAR-POWERED SOCCER PITCH IN LAGOS ALSO USES PLAYERS’ FOOTFALL TO KEEP THE LIGHTS ON via Yomi Kazeem of Quartz – Africa is already waking up to the possibilities that renewable energy provides, the African Union has pledged a $20 billion investment over the next decade. In East Africa, pay-as-you-go solar energy services are already proving a mainstream success. In West Africa, things are still at an early experimental stage. One such experiment is a solar-powered football pitch which also uses kinetic energy generated by footballers playing. Located at a teacher’s college in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center, the innovative soccer pitch was launched last year in a three-way collaboration between energy giant Shell; music star Akon, who has been championing solar energy on the continent; and Pavegen, a UK-based start-up which has a target of providing low-cost renewable energy solutions to Africa’s electricity problems.

— “It’s possible that there is a “mirror universe” where time moves backward, say scientists” via Olivia Goldhill of Quartz

— “People trust Google for their news more than the actual news” via Adam Epstein of Quartz

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our dear friend Jen Lux.

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.

Latest from Statewide

Go to Top