Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – July 7

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Thank you for reading Sunburn — the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

IT’S NO LONGER THE MEERKAT ELECTION, IT’S THE SELFIE ELECTION via Jeremy Peters and Ashley Parker of the New York Times

Candidates can now spend an hour — or sometimes two, as Senator Rand Paul did last month in New Hampshire — exhausting a line of eager selfie seekers. Others, like Senator Ted Cruz, have learned to add an extra 20 minutes at the beginning and end of events because so many people want pictures.

Jeb Bush has perfected a technique suited to his 6-foot-3 frame: For his shorter fans, he will take the picture with his own outstretched selfie stick of an arm. The sons of Gov. Scott Walker have watched their father take so many, they say he has significantly polished his shutterbug skills. Gov. Chris Christie’s staff says he has taken “too many to count.”

But as campaigns adjust to a new self-focused social media world, some are left wondering whether more meaningful voter-candidate interactions are suffering. When candidates oblige so many people, some requesting multiple takes to straighten that smile, square a double chin or get a pesky photo bomber out of the frame, are they losing the chance to clarify a policy position, listen to concerns or even just look a voter in the eye?

“It’s self-serving, and the candidate is kind of screwed,” said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party.

Indeed, it is not always clear whether the people asking for photographs even like or plan to vote for the candidate they are posing with, or whether they just want a Facebook trophy to flaunt … Not all candidates care to oblige.

For security teams on the campaigns, all this close contact between candidates and strangers can be a challenge, but in some ways it is easier to monitor than a traditional rope line. That is because selfies keep people’s hands up where they can be seen.

Many campaigns say they are benefiting after posing for all those pictures. When shared on Facebook and Instagram, they can exponentially increase a candidate’s visibility, spreading an authentic memento that helps extend the chatter around a rally beyond those who attended.

THE REPUBLICAN DEBATE SELECTION PROCESS IS A NEW WILD CARD IN PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS via Steven Yaccino of Bloomberg Politics

A month from now, 10 Republican presidential candidates will walk out onto a primetime debate stage in Cleveland and confront each other face to face for the first time. If the debate were held today, Donald Trump would be one of them. Two sitting governors, a U.S. senator, the runner-up for the 2012 GOP nomination, and the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company would all be excluded.

That’s an estimate based on qualifying criteria described by Fox News, which will host the GOP showdown in partnership with Facebook on Aug. 6 in Cleveland, using an average of five as-yet-unspecified national polls to determine the lineup. The network should be celebrating its coveted role of hosting the first debate of the Republican primary season, with the prestige and audience that it brings. But instead, the news organization may have stumbled into a political minefield.

In an unprecedentedly large field of 16 presidential contenders, at least half are statistically on the bubble of not qualifying for the debate stage, with only a month to differentiate themselves. The result is a campaign-within-a-campaign, with very different imperatives from the ones the primary process is designed to produce. Campaigns who are in danger of not making the cut may try everything possible to improve their chances over the next four weeks—taking extreme, news-making positions; dumping opposition research on opponents; inundating e-mail inboxes; and blitzing the Sunday television circuit, late-night talk shows, conservative radio airwaves, and cable news programs. Instead of spending resources on political operations in early-voting states, candidates may blow that cash on national TV ads to boost name recognition at the eleventh hour.

For candidates on the bubble, the most frustrating thing about the process may be its uncertainty and near-randomness. An analysis by the Bloomberg Politics polling team of the entry criteria released by Fox News suggests that it will be virtually impossible to know which candidates will qualify for the first debate until just days before the event, regardless of what they do in the coming weeks. And because of the varying sample sizes, margins of error, and targeted respondents featured in different national polls, the winners and losers of this new debate primary season may have little relation to their prospects of becoming the eventual nominee. Methodologically, they might as well be drawing straws.

JEB BUSH LAYS OUT HIS FOREIGN POLICY VISION via Jamie Weinstein of the Daily Caller

What would the foreign policy look like in a third Bush presidency? … Bush seemed to place less emphasis on democracy promotion than his brother did and some of the other 2016 Republican presidential contenders … Bush said liberal democracy is “one of the values that we need to promote,” he added it is hardly the only, or even most important, one.

“It has to be tempered with the realization that not every country is immediately going to become a little ‘d’ democratic country,” Bush said. “Iraq would be a good example of that I think.”

But, Bush argued, a focus on security can ultimately lead to liberal democracy.

“I think ultimately security will lead towards democracy and having an engaged America will help make that so, but you cannot have democracy without security,” Bush said when asked if he could imagine considering America’s missions in Afghanistan and Iraq as successes if those countries don’t end up as liberal democracies.

“The difference between, say, China or Vietnam is we got something in return when we negotiated diplomatic relations with those countries … We had China enter into the [World Trade Organization] and we’ve driven them in some way as it relates to just being a partner, not just a partner for us, but a trading partner with the rest of the world — embracing standards that were global.”

Bush sees Egypt as a “great case” study in what he perceives as the Obama administration’s lack of grand strategy in foreign policy. The U.S. was “bouncing back and forth based on the conditions on the ground” during the 2011 Egyptian revolution and its aftermath, Bush said.

Asked whether a President Jeb Bush would have more forcefully stood behind Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, Bush didn’t directly answer … United States “didn’t have a policy” and seemed to be “reacting to events on the ground.”

Another potential fissure point within the Republican presidential field is Libya … Bush seemed to side with those who argue that America’s failure in Libya was one of strategy and implementation. When first asked whether the U.S. should have intervened, Bush responded by criticizing the Obama administration’s policy of “leading from behind.”

“That’s an oxymoron, and there was no long term strategy to deal with the aftermath of taking Gaddafi out … And now we have at least two governments, plus insurgents throughout Libya, that has created an ungovernable situation. I think the United States was wrong [not to develop] a strategy beyond just airstrikes.”

Pushed on whether it was a mistake for President Obama to intervene at all, Bush only said that it was a mistake to do so “without a strategy.”

TWITTER WARS: DONALD TRUMP DELETES RETWEET SLAMMING BUSH’S WIFE via Carrie Dan of NBC News

Donald Trump reportedly retweeted — and then deleted — a tweet suggesting that  Bush “has to like the Mexican Illegals” because he is married to a Mexican woman.

On the evening of July 4, Trump’s account retweeted a post by user @RobHeilbron, who wrote “#JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.”

That tweet appears to have been deleted from Trump’s account …

Bush’s wife, Columba, is Mexican.

Bush criticized Trump’s comments about Latinos, including the real estate mogul’s statement that immigrants from Mexico are “rapists.”

“I don’t think he represents the Republican Party, and his views are way out of the mainstream of what most Republicans think,” he told reporters in New Hampshire …

MITT ROMNEY MEETS WITH BUSH via Kyle Cheney and Ken Vogel of POLITICO

Romney isn’t a candidate this time, but his schedule is suddenly crammed with those who are. The former Massachusetts governor, who spent 4th of July week at his Wolfeboro, N.H., home, swung east to Maine on Monday for lunch with Bush, just three days after hosting Chris Christie and Marco Rubio for a sleepover.

Romney allies insist the 2012 Republican presidential nominee isn’t vetting candidates for an endorsement, rather he’s embracing a newfound role he plans to play until the party elevates a presumptive nominee: political tutor. Romney, who flirted with a third presidential run early this year, fancies himself a mentor to the candidates he’d most like to see occupy the White House in his stead. He won’t endorse any of them, but he’ll wield his clout by imparting a decade of campaign wisdom to his favored candidates.

Bush aides say the meeting haD been in the works for months … it was scheduled to coincide with a visit to Maine by former President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara, who also attended the gathering. George P. Bush and his wife Amanda were also on hand. It comes a week before Bush is slated to host a donor summit at the compound.

BUSH’S PARENTS EXPECTED TO BE SPECIAL GUESTS AT DINNER WITH TOP DONORS via Beth Reinhard of the Wall Street Journal

Former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush are expected to be the “special guests” at a dinner … in Kennebunkport, Maine, with top donors to their son’s presidential campaign.

Donors who raised at least $27,000 in the 15 days between Bush‘s presidential campaign announcement and June 30, the end of the Federal Election Commission’s fundraising quarter, were invited to the “27 in Fifteen” retreat.

That fundraising push was the first by Bush’s team to focus on bundling campaign donations of a maximum of $2,700 per person. Bush previously spent months raising unlimited sums for his Right to Rise super PAC. Both the campaign and super PAC are likely to announce their fundraising totals as early as this week.

Donors are invited … to a briefing with Bush and senior staff including senior adviser Sally Bradshaw, campaign manager Danny Diaz, national finance chairman Woody Johnson, New Hampshire strategist Rich Killion, senior strategist David Kochel, national finance director Heather Larrison, national finance co-chairman Jack Oliver and general counsel Megan Sowards.

An itinerary sent to donors says attire in “Kennebunkport casual – no jacket and tie for men. Thursday evening’s reception and dinner will take place both indoors and outdoors; therefore, we recommend that ladies wear flat shoes and everyone bring a jacket or sweater as temperatures will drop.”

TWEET, TWEET: @JamesPindell: @JebBush will hold town hall meeting at Hudson VFW Wednesday night 6pm, introduced by Sheriff Jim Hardy

PRO-MARCO RUBIO POLITICAL GROUP SAYS IT’S RAISED $15.8M via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

Conservative Solutions Project, a political nonprofit formed by backers of Rubio … collected $15.8 million since it was established last year.

The haul will allow the tax-exempt group to nationally air a television ad criticizing President Obama’s nuclear talks with Iran, the nonprofit said in a statement … The spot had so far only been broadcast on more limited cable networks. The group says it has spent more than $3.3 million in ad buys.

“We’re also pleased to announce that, with more than $15.8 million raised already, Conservative Solutions Project is nearly two-thirds of the way to our overall fundraising goal,” nonprofit President Pat Shortridge said in the statement. “These funds will allow us to continue the fight to restore our military and our nation’s role in the world, and given the recent news about the nation’s stagnant economy, advocate for conservative solutions to an inefficient tax code and education reform so all Americans have a chance to pursue their dreams.”

The nonprofit is separate from but related to Conservative Solutions, a Super PAC also backing Rubio. Both are ostensibly independent from Rubio’s campaign — they’re not allowed to “coordinate” — but run by Rubio supporters. The difference between the nonprofit and the Super PAC is that the Super PAC must periodically disclose its financial donors, while the nonprofit can keep them secret.

RUBIO MAY HAVE A BETTER SHOT AT BECOMING PRESIDENT THAN ANY CUBAN-AMERICAN EVER HAS, BUT HE’S NOT EXACTLY POPULAR IN CUBA via the New York Times

If Rubio becomes president, we’re done for,” Héctor Montiel, 66, told The New York Times’ Jason Horowitz while sitting on the Havana street where Rubio’s father grew up. “He’s against Cuba in every possible way. Hillary Clinton understands much more the case of Cuba. Rubio and these Republicans, they are still stuck in 1959.”

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcoRubio: NYT follows up traffic tix & “luxury speedboat” stories with expose of Castro regime’s propaganda on me. #nicetry

CONSERVATIVE GROUP CALLS FOR ALAN GRAYSON ETHICS PROBE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO

A conservative watchdog group is asking the House Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Rep. Alan Grayson for using his name in hedge funds he manages. POLITICO Florida reported … that three funds overseen by the Orlando Democrat use his name in their titles, which violates House ethics rules designed to prevent members from using their elected posts for financial gain.

“This is not simply a technical violation, but rather a violation that implicates fundamental goals of the ethics rules—to ensure that members fulfill the public trust,” says a letter written by Matthew Whitaker, director of a Washington-based group called the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust.

The letter was sent to former Democratic congressman David Skaggs of Colorado, who serves as co-chairman of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which was established in 2008 to investigate misconduct allegations against House members and staff. Between 2013 and 2014, the office referred 17 cases to the full House ethics committee, which can choose to either investigate or toss the referrals.

The three funds are Delaware-based Grayson Fund L.P. and Cayman Islands-based funds called Grayson Master Fund (Cayman) Ltd. and Grayson Fund (Cayman) Ltd. The domestic fund has two investors and $13.2 million in sales.

Grayson said in an email late last month that the ethics rule does not apply to his hedge funds because he has no “fiduciary responsibility” over the funds. Four business and law experts interviewed by POLITICO Florida said that explanation made no sense, and that Grayson should have a fiduciary duty over the funds.

GRAYSON WANTS RAND PAUL TO BE HIS NEXT PRESIDENT? via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

When a local Sunday morning cable news show asked Grayson what he thought about the GOP presidential field, the Orlando Democrat made a surprising endorsement.

Grayson wants Republican Rand Paul to be his next president.

“I look at the Republican field and I can’t see a single person in that field, with the possible exception of Rand Paul, who I actually want to be my president,” Grayson told host Ybeth Bruzual on the News 13 Orlando talker Political Connections. “I look at this from the voters’ perspective … and I say to myself, ‘these people do not have an answer to this very important question: What have you done for the people.’”

Never one to shy away from speaking his mind, it will be interesting to see how Grayson’s latest comment – which is now on available on YouTube — plays with the progressive left, his base, or affects his chances of entering the Senate race (if at all).

Kevin Franck, a representative for Grayson’s campaign committee, said the statement was certainly not an endorsement of Paul.

“Rep. Grayson definitely does not support Rand Paul for president,” Franck said in an email, “and he plans to vigorously support the Democratic nominee. “Alan has never voted for a Republican presidential candidate in his life, unlike some people.”

JOHN MICA OFFICIALLY FILES FOR REELECTION IN 7TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT via Frank Torres of Orlando-Politics.com

Mica … filed for reelection in the 7th Congressional District, officially beginning his march for a 13th term.

Mica held his campaign kick-off in April … but his filing along with an estimated 400K on hand will send a message to any potential challengers, as well as the dozen or so Republicans, many of them lawmakers who will be running for reelection themselves next year, that the longtime Congressman is staying put.

The representative of the 7th District has shown little sign of slowing down, he was arguably the biggest advocate for the recently dedicated Veterans Hospital at Lake Nona, and has been investigating several operations for waste and abuse in his role the Oversight and Government reform Committee.

Mica drew minor opposition in 2014, with his general election opponent reportedly moving to Washington after he was frustrated with the lack of support he received from the Democratic party.

ALCEE HASTINGS PLANS TO RAISE 400K, SHUT THE DOOR ON POTENTIAL OPPONENTS via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

U.S. Rep. Hastings … represents minority-dominated District 20, where the Democratic primary is the election to watch since Dems have a 5-to-1 registration advantage. Hastings drew two Democratic challengers last year — Port of Palm Beach Commissioner Jean Enright and retired heavyweight boxer Jameel McCline — and won the primary with 79.2 percent of the vote.

He hopes to discourage similar challenges in the future. So Hastings, who had a fairly modest $141,220 in his campaign account at the end of April, says he wants to bring that figure north of $400,000 by next May’s deadline for federal candidates to qualify for the ballot.

“Anything above $400,000, I don’t think anybody wants to come into the arena,” Hastings said. “My goal is to get between 400,000 and $600,000. Then I think I would shut the door on just about any of the candidates.”

Attorney Jonathan Chane, the newest Democratic candidate in the crowded Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18 race, once represented Lorillard Tobacco Company as a litigator for the powerhouse Greenberg Traurig firm.

Republican candidates Carl Domino and Paul Spain say they are in no hurry to hit up contributors.

Domino, making a second try for the seat after losing to Murphy last year, said he won’t begin fundraising until the fall, but in the meantime he has put $200,000 of his own money into the 2016 race. Domino put nearly $1.2 million into his 2014 campaign.

Attorney Andy Thomson, who lives in Boca Raton, has decided against moving to mid-county state House District 87 to make a Democratic bid for the seat of Rep. Dave Kerner … who’s leaving to run for Palm Beach County Commission. Another Boca Raton resident, businessman David Silvers, plans to move to District 87 to run as a Democrat for Kerner’s seat. Democrat Virginia Savietto, a District 87 resident, is also running.

FORMER DOLPHINS PLAYER AND FEDERAL AGENT RANDAL HILL TO RUN AGAINST FREDERICA WILSON via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

Former Dolphins wide receiver and federal Homeland Security agent Randal Hill will take on U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson … in a Democratic primary. Wilson has represented Congressional District 24 which spans Miami-Dade and Broward counties since 2010.

Hill played professional football between 1991 and 1997 for the Miami Dolphins, the Arizona Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints. Before playing professionally, Hill played for the University of Miami including their championship team in 1989.

Hill told the Miami Herald … that he quit his job as an agent with Homeland Security on Friday to run for Congress. He filed his paperwork to run with the Federal Election Commission last week. Hill said he didn’t have any immediate criticism of Wilson’s stances on issues but questioned what she had accomplished for the district.

Wilson is famous for her massive collection of flamboyant hats. After she was first elected to Congress, she said: “The U.S. House rule barring members from wearing hats while in session dates back to the 1800s and can be waived by the speaker.”

PAM BONDI WANTS THE SOLAR POWER CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT OFF THE 2016 BALLOT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Two years ago, Attorney General Pam Bondi attempted to have a proposed constitutional amendment on medical marijuana removed from the Florida ballot, saying that ballot language was misleading and that more widespread use of marijuana would be allowed than what voters would be led to believe. Now she’s going after a proposed solar-energy ballot initiative slated for 2016, alleging in a brief filed with the state Supreme Court last month that the measure’s ballot title and summary are misleading, and the proposal violates the constitutional single-subject requirement.

“We felt it violated the single-subject rule and it wasn’t clear to the voters what it would really do, so we challenged it and that’s now in the hands of the Supreme Court,” Bondi told Florida Politics last week. “We’ve been joined by the Chamber of Commerce, by the Black Chamber, and by multiple, multiple organizations regarding this issue,” she added.

In addition, other opponents to the measure include the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Orlando Utilities Commission and the Florida Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women.

“Nowhere do the ballot title or summary state that the amendment drastically changes the regulatory scheme and shifts more of the costs to maintain the power grid to non-solar customers,” the Florida Chamber said in its brief. “Nowhere are voters told that local governments would no longer be able to enforce residential-only zoning regulations against local solar power companies that want to establish commercial operations in residential neighborhoods.”

In a separate filing with the Court, investor-owned utilities Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co. and Gulf Power say that proposed ballot language by the coalition known as Floridians for Solar Choice would be “misleading” to voters.

DAVID RICHARDSON TO PAM BONDI: COST OF FIGHTING EQUALITY? via Elaine de Valle of Political Cortadito

State Rep. David Richardson … wants to know what the Sunshine State spent fighting equal marriage rights for the past several years.

Richardson wrote to Attorney General Bondi … for “a full accounting” of the amount of taxpayer money and resources her office spent on numerous appeal to prohibit gay marriage — until she gave up last month after the Supreme Court ruling that bans state bans on gay marriage. She had stopped appealing in January, when the court took up the case, in order to wait for the court’s clarification.

Richardson does not sound very forgiving.

“For far too long, your office has appealed the decisions from judges who ruled in favor of marriage equality,” Richardson wrote … “If your office had not continuously fought those rulings in appellate courts, gay people could have married earlier in Florida.

“I am hearing from many constituents who are upset that scarce and valuable state resources were wasted. My constituents want answers,” Richardson wrote. “I am herein requesting a full accounting of the amount of taxpayer money and resources spent defending the state’s ban on gay marriage. Please produce all records, including time sheets or summaries, outside counsel bills, invoices and other documents that detail the amount of time and money spent litigating this issue.

Richardson also told his “friends” he’d keep us posted on the answer … bets it’s in the millions.

RICHARDSON OFFICIALLY PULLS OUT OF RACE FOR GWEN MARGOLIS’ SENATE SEAT via Michael Auslen of the Miami Herald

Richardson … officially pulled out of the race to replace Sen. Gwen Margolis … He had entered that election in January but said he would back out if Margolis decided to run again. Now, he says, it’s becoming clear that Margolis wants to stay in her seat.

“I’ve long said that I was not going to run against Sen. Gwen Margolis should she elect to run for reelection,” Richardson told the Times/Herald … “I believed that she probably would not run for reelection, but it has become clear to me that it’s more likely she will.”

Last week, Richardson filed paperwork with the state indicating that he won’t run for Senate until 2020. … If the venerable Senator — the longest-serving member of Florida’s Legislature and a former Senate president — decides to step down, Richardson plans to take the seat.

Richardson was first elected to the House in 2012. He’s the first openly gay member of the Florida Legislature. He has already collected $209,622.38 for his 2016 campaign.

FLORIDA VETERANS HALL OF FAME CEREMONY DRAWS CONFEDERATE PROTEST via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times

A decision to omit three Confederate soldiers from the state’s fledgling Veterans Hall of Fame likely never looked better … Scott mostly avoided having to discuss the state’s Civil War past during a ceremony honoring five veterans, thanks in large part to a decision in March by him and the Cabinet to leave off the names of three who fought for the Confederate States of America.

But that didn’t sit well with David McCallister, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans from Wesley Chapel who led a one-man protest before Scott arrived. Waving a small Confederate flag and wearing a tie with the same design, McCallister stood at the front of the ceremony with about 200 people declaring Florida needed to recognize Confederate soldiers along with U.S. military veterans.

“All of Florida’s veterans need to be respected,” McCallister said before being escorted out of the room by Capitol police. McCallister was later allowed to go back into the event and watched the proceedings without further incident.

Asked afterward about the outburst, Scott said he didn’t see or hear any of it.

The state’s seven-member Veterans Hall of Fame Council nominated eight people to be part of (the) ceremony, including Confederate soldiers Edward PerryDavid Lang, Florida’s first adjutant general; and Samuel Pasco, a Harvard-educated prisoner of war and U.S. senator for whom Pasco County is named.

RICK SCOTT HOLDS SIGNING CEREMONY TO MAKE NATIONALS NEW SPRING TRAINING SITE OFFICIAL via Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post

By the time … Scott held his bill signing ceremony … in Palm Beach County, he had already signed House Bill 1213, and in so doing tweaked a decades-old law to allow the Astros and Nationals to move forward with their joint spring training facility in West Palm Beach.

Scott made the change officially official with a bill signing ceremony held with Nationals and Astros representatives on hand, an acknowledgement of the return of spring training baseball to West Palm Beach for the first time since the Braves and Expos left decades ago. That the Astros and Nationals will move to Palm Beach County — if all stays on schedule — means there will be five teams within a 30-minute drive of one another on the East coast of Florida, a good sign for the health of the Grapefruit League, which requires more travel than the Cactus League in Arizona. From Space Coast Stadium in Viera, where the Nationals train now, their nearest opponent is about 45 minutes away.

The bill he signed … again … changes a Florida law about the amount of space required as a buffer zone around canals that feed the water supply. The easement in question was incorporated into early plans for the spring training site as grass fields that could be used for parking when necessary … The teams have chosen a contractor for the project, and have submitted plans to the county planning board for approval. There are several steps remaining in the process before construction can begin, but as of now, the teams expect to begin construction by this fall. That would put them on track to use the facility beginning in 2016.

SCOTT SIDESTEPS QUESTIONS ON 2018 SENATE RUN via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott was offering no hints … about whether he is considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2018. Asked about that prospect, in light of him spending almost $300,000 on political consultants since April, Scott wouldn’t bite.

“I’m continuing to work at my job as governor,” Scott said following a ceremony inducting five new members into Florida’s Veterans Hall of Fame. “I just went through an election last year and I’ve got three and a half more years as governor and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this is a place this a where you want to raise your family.”

Besides spending money on consultants, Scott, a Republican, has also been airing television ads statewide through his Let’s Get To Work fundraising committee and has tried to elevate his national profile by hosting 7 GOP presidential candidates at an economic summit he hosted in Orlando in June.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will kick-off the JAXPORT Mile Point Harbor Improvement Project with a 9:30 a.m. press conference at Helen Cooper Floyd Park, 3600 Florida A1A in Jacksonville. Later, Scott will highlight job growth at a 3:00 p.m. presser at Aerospace Precision, 2851 Evans Street in Hollywood.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Space Florida President and Chief Executive Officer Frank DiBello will speak to the Economic Club of Florida at noon in the FSU Alumni Center, 1030 West Tennessee St., Tallahassee.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The state Public Service Commission holds a pre-hearing at 1:30 p.m. to consider a proposal by Wal-Mart and the Florida Industrial Power Users Group to allow eligible customers to “opt out” of utility energy-efficiency programs. Those customers would need to develop their own energy-efficiency programs. The meeting is at the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way in Tallahassee. Full hearings on the issue start on July 22.

LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND

With a hat-tip to LobbyTools, here is latest on who is on and who is off the legislative staffing merry-go-round.

Off: Jill Zaborske has left her position with the House Local Government Affairs Subcommittee.

Off: Stefano Perez has left his position as District Secretary for Rep. Matt Hudson.

On: Cameron Pennant is the new District Secretary for Rep. Hudson.

Off: Donntay Cooper is no longer the Legislative Assistant for Rep. Kionne Mcghee

Off: Brian Fay has left his position as the District Secretary for Rep. Mike Miller.

CARLOS GUILLERMO SMITH BRINGS IN 21.4K FOR JUNE, ANNOUNCES NODS FROM RANDOLPH, SINGH, TMR via Frank Torres of Orlando-Politics.com

Orange County Democratic Executive Committee Chairman and candidate for House District 49 Carlos Guillermo Smith announced that he’s brought in about $21.4K in campaign contributions for June, and formally announced endorsements from 3 of Orange County’s elected leaders.

County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, Property Appraiser Rick Singh, and Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore-Russell have all thrown their support behind Smith, Randolph had these remarks about Smith and his campaign.

“Since serving as my legislative aide in the Florida House, Carlos has mastered the process of being an effective advocate in our state Capitol on the issues that voters care about the most. Not only will he be a great legislator and champion for his constituents, but leaders like Carlos are the future of the Democratic Party.”

Some of the notable names listed on Smith’s fundraising reports include Vice-Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, Alan Clenedin, Orange County School Board Members Darryl Flynn, and Nancy Robinson, as well as former State Representative Joe Saunders, and Karen Castor-Dentel.

Smith faces primary opposition from Gus Martinez, who has yet to post any fundraising numbers. Their running to replace incumbent Rene Plasencia … who has announced his is running in District 50 next year.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Michael Anway, Mark Delegal, Holland & Knight: Thermo Fisher Scientific

Keyna Cory, Public Affairs Consultants: The Chemours Company TT

Tim Deratany: Infiltrator Systems, Inc.

Mercer Fearington, Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Prioria Robotics

Meredith Hinshelwood: Office of Financial Regulation

Jerry Paul, Capitol Energy Florida: Medallion Homes Gulf Coast

JACKSONVILLE’S ANDREW JACKSON STATUE VANDALIZED TWICE via the Associated Press

A statue of Andrew Jackson in downtown Jacksonville has been vandalized twice in the past week.

The Florida Times-Union that graffiti was sprayed over the weekend on the statue of the seventh president. He was also Florida’s military governor in 1821 after the territory was acquired from Spain. Large orange letters spelled out “Black Lives Matter” and “justice 4 D” on the statue’s base.

The paper says the latter could refer to the May fatal shooting of D’anglo Stallworth by Jacksonville police.

Earlier last week, someone put a mask of a Native American on the statue. As president, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that led to thousands being forced from their native land to reservations west of the Mississippi River.

LAWSUITS FROM PUBLIC RECORDS GROUP ARE A NUISANCE, FLORIDA CITIES SAY via Mike Brassfield of the Tampa Bay Times

It starts with a demand that a low-level city employee produce a public record on the spot. Or with an email to a private company demanding invoices relating to a public agency. Often, it ends with a lawsuit.

For more than a year, government officials all over Florida and the vendors they do business with have complained about a nonprofit group called the Citizens Awareness Foundation.

They say the group sues after requesting records in ways designed to force low-level office workers into technical violations of the state’s public records law. Other times, the records requests arrive in emails that appear to be junk mail or phishing scams and, thus, aren’t fulfilled. Cities often settle these lawsuits because it’s cheaper than fighting in court.

The situation has gotten the attention of the state Legislature. Sen. Wilton Simpson … sponsored a bill this past session that would have required the requester to contact a government agency’s records custodian (who would reach out to the business vendor if needed) and give five days’ notice before suing.

Such a law might have made a difference for Michael Foley, who owns RoyalAire Mechanical Services in Oldsmar. He said he deleted an email he received just before 1 p.m. on a Saturday from “An Onoma” requesting invoices referenced in the company’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning contract with the University of South Florida. He figured it was spam.

Foley immediately produced the documents when the lawsuit was served, but said the foundation’s lawyers rejected the papers as well as an initial settlement offer to cover court costs. Foley eventually spent more than $3,000 fighting the suit before paying a cash settlement.

PENSION AGENCY PLACES LIENS ON TAMPA BAY TIMES PUBLISHING PROPERTIES via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times

The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has placed liens on all property owned by Times Publishing Co. and its parent organization, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, for failing to make required contributions to their pension plan.

The liens are for $30,476,992 — the difference between the pension plan’s current assets and the calculation of all future benefits. The liens were recorded last week in Pinellas County official records.

“As we have previously acknowledged, the Times received approval to delay some of its contributions to the pension plan during the economic recession and recovery,” said Jana Jones, vice president and CFO of Times Publishing, which publishes the Tampa BaTimes. “Related to these approvals, the Times agreed to provide collateral to the PBGC. These liens are part of this process.”

Jones said the Times is about $10 million behind in its contributions, reiterating that the liens reflect total obligations in coming years. The Times’ pension plan covers approximately 3,400 current and former staffers of the Times and its business magazine, Florida Trend. She said those participants should have “no reason for alarm” about their benefit payments.

“The assets in the Times plan exceed $100 million — considerably higher than the balance when the Times first received permission to delay contributions,” Jones said. “Meanwhile, we continued to have constructive conversations with the PBGC about an orderly payment plan.”

UBER ANNOUNCES IT’S LEAVING BROWARD BY JULY 31 via the Miami Herald

Ride-sharing service Uber has confirmed it is pulling out of Broward County on July 31, citing some of the most “onerous” regulations in the country.

A spokesperson for Uber said, “Broward County officials implemented one of the most onerous regulatory frameworks for ridesharing in the nation. Unfortunately, these new rules raise substantial barriers for local entrepreneurs and make it impossible for us to continue providing the standard of service people have come to expect in Broward County.

“We have no choice but to suspend operations on July 31st. We hope the Board of County Commissioners will revisit the issue when they return from break and work with us to bring Uber back to Broward.”

FESTIVUS POLE IN FLORIDA CAPITOL: THIS YEAR, A “RAINBOW GAY EDITION” via Chris Joseph of the Broward/Palm Beach New Times

Deerfield Beach activist and blogger Chaz Stevens has made it his annual goal to have a Festivus pole erected in the Florida Capitol rotunda during the holidays. Now, Stevens is gunning for a third straight time. But with a twist.

Stevens has decided that this year’s Festivus pole will be a celebration of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage legal across the country.

“It’s the rainbow gay edition,” Stevens says. “A project we’ve lovingly entitled ‘We’ve Gone Completely Gay!’”

Stevens … took advantage of Florida officials allowing religious groups of all kinds to put up a display in the rotunda that represents their beliefs during the holidays … Stevens chose Festivus, a fake holiday invented by a character in the iconic ’90s sitcom Seinfeld, and put up an eight-foot-tall display made entirely of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans. The pole has graced the rotunda for the past two years during the holidays and has brought Stevens a lot of attention from the national media … “rainbow gay edition” Festivus pole will have a few additions to it, including making the pole taller … a “durable, all-weather condom” made from a nylon LGBT flag. Stevens also has plans to install a small solar-powered disco light at the top of the pole. The idea is to use the solar power generated from the ball to have the song “It’s Raining Men” blast from a speaker at 5 p.m. every day the pole is up.

Stevens says he’s already filled out the necessary paperwork and is awaiting word from Tallahassee for approval. And while he’s looking for a way to celebrate the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling, the central goal seems to remain a desire to stick it to those who oppose anything but Christian-themed displays in the rotunda during the holidays.

FLORIDA MAN GETS 2.5 YEARS FOR HAVING SEX ON THE BEACH via the Associated Press

A man convicted of having sex on a Florida beach in front of families was sentenced to two and a half years in prison … Jose Caballero, 40, and Elissa Alvarez, 21, were convicted in May of two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior in a case that drew international attention for the couple’s brazen act. They were videotaped having sex on a Manatee County beach last summer in broad daylight. Witnesses testified that a 3-year-old girl saw them.

Caballero told jurors that he and Alvarez were not having sex and that witnesses were mistaken. Jurors listened to graphic testimony from witnesses and saw a video of Alvarez moving on top of Caballero in a sexual manner in the middle of the day while others watched.

“We are grateful that the state has offered 2 1/2 years,” said Ronald Kurpiers, defense attorney for Caballero.

Caballero planned to appeal his case. Alvarez, who was recently sentenced to time served, filed an appeal in her case in June. Prosecutors said it was important that the community knew what wouldn’t be tolerated on public beaches.

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.