Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — June 22

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Hello, Summer. The temperature is in the triple digits. The humidity is already at 120 percent. On the campaign trail, Jeb Bush has announced his presidential campaign, so too has Marco Rubio. We’re months away from the first debate and it’s challenging to get excited about an election almost a year and a half away.

Meanwhile, the 2015 legislative session, special or otherwise, is in the books. A budget has been passed, which means Gov. Rick Scott is sharpening his carving knife as he prepares to veto tens, if not hundreds, of millions in turkeys.

Judging by the number of away-email messages received, many of you are already on vacation. Even Marc Caputo and his Playbook are on a two-week hiatus. It would be easy to just grab a good book and head for the beach.

But it’s during the dog days of Summer when campaigns can be won or loss. This is when candidates crank up their fundraising machines like they are wall-mounted AC units.

As for those in the legislative process, enjoy this brief respite because committee weeks begin in September.

Bottom line, there is no off-season any longer in Florida politics. Not even during Summer.

DAYS UNTIL: Debut of Terminator: Genisys: 9; Independence Day: 12; MLB All-Star Game: 22; First GOP presidential debate: 45; FSU & UF’s first football games of 2015: 74; Labor Day: 76; First Legislative Committee Meeting: 85; First day of 2016 Legislative Session: 204; Iowa Caucus 225; Super Bowl 50: 231; New Hampshire Primary: 233; Super Tuesday: 254; Florida’s presidential primary: 268; Close of federal candidate qualifying: 320; Florida’s primary elections: 436; 2016 Election Day: 506.


Dixon emails: “Excited to hit the ground running with POLITICO Florida. Our roster of six top-notch reporters will immediately make us Florida’s largest political and state government news organization. Feel that? It’s the state’s media landscape tilting.”

TWEET, TWEET: @MDixon55: If you are a press flak who wants me to continue deleting your press releases, please add to your email lists

2016 ELECTION WILL NOT BE ABOUT THE CANDIDATES via Charlie Cook of the National Journal

It’s human nature: People’s ideas about presidential races are largely shaped by their perceptions of the personalities and images of the candidates. Both voters and the media become preoccupied, even obsessed, with these factors, to the exclusion of any others. The truth is, however, that big, fundamental forces have considerable—indeed, probably greater—impact on the outcome of a presidential race. As much fun as it is to dwell on the public perceptions of each of the candidates, in many ways this election is more likely to boil down to the relative impact of shifting American demographics versus the power of the idea that it is “time for a change.”

These days, those who do think beyond personality seem mainly focused on the demographic argument. … Fewer people—beyond Republican campaigners hoping to tap into anti-Obama sentiment—are making the “time for a change” argument. It has long been recognized that there is an important referendum-on-the-incumbent-president element to our elections. Indeed, the overall outcome of midterm elections typically reflects approval or disapproval of the White House occupant.

Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz is renowned for his “time for a change” presidential computer model, which relies on just three factors: the incumbent president’s job-approval ratings at the end of June of the presidential election year, the change in real gross domestic product in the second quarter of that election year, and the presence or absence of an incumbent president seeking re-election.

In a January 2015 piece that Abramowitz wrote for Sabato’s Crystal Ball … Abramowitz argued, “Despite the small number of open-seat elections, a clear pattern emerges from the data: The fate of the incumbent party’s candidate is strongly influenced by the popularity of the outgoing president …” That same month, when President Obama‘s approval rating rose from the low 40s to roughly 46 percent after his State of the Union speech, Nate Cohn made the same argument in the “Upshot” section of The New York Times online: “The balance of evidence suggests that the break-even point for the presidential party’s odds of victory is at or nearly 50 percent approval. If the only thing you knew about the 2016 election was Mr. Obama’s approval rating on Election Day, you might guess that the Democrats had a 37 percent chance of holding the White House with a 46 percent rating — rather than a 23 percent chance with a 41 percent rating. The difference between 41 and 46 might be worth between one and two percentage points to the Democratic candidate in 2016 — the difference between a close race and a modest but clear Republican victory.”

… Right now, the landscape looks like this: Obama has averaged 46 percent in the weekly Gallup job-approval ratings since the beginning of this year; over the past eight weeks, he has averaged 46.5 percent. As for the polling aggregators, which average all of the major national polls: Through June 16, The Huffington Post‘s “Pollster” showed the average was 45 percent; RealClearPolitics came up with 44 percent. If these numbers hold, they would argue for a much greater “time for a change” dynamic than Democrats would like to see.  … Whether the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton or someone else, and whether that candidate runs joined at President Obama’s hip or not, the Democratic standard-bearer will be tethered to Obama to a certain extent no matter what. How people are feeling about him, the country, and the economy will make a huge difference in 2016 — other personalities notwithstanding.


Bush’s standing among Republican primary voters continues to improve, Rubio remains popular with the party and two-thirds of GOP voters say they couldn’t support Donald Trump.

Those are the findings from a … NBC News/Wall Street Journal [poll], which was conducted June 14-18 — during the build-up and coverage of Bush’s and Trump’s official presidential announcements.

According to the poll, 75 percent of Republicans say they could see themselves supporting Bush … for president, versus 22 percent who couldn’t (+53 points). That’s up from his 70 percent-27 percent score in April (+43), and 49 percent-42 percent score in March (+7).

Rubio … has the highest margin of support among Republicans, with 74 percent who could see themselves backing him and 15 percent who couldn’t (+59) — unchanged from April’s poll.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is expected to announce his presidential bid next month, has plenty of upside with GOP voters: 57 percent could see themselves supporting him, versus 19 percent who couldn’t (+38), but there’s another 21 percent who say they don’t know his name.

The most unpopular GOP presidential candidate in the poll? Donald Trump, who announced his White House bid last Tuesday (but who still has yet to file his “statement of candidacy” with the Federal Election Commission). Just 32 percent of Republican primary voters say they could see themselves supporting him, compared with a whopping 66 percent who couldn’t (-34).


For the second time in less than two weeks, Bush is shuffling the top tier of his 2016 campaign staff.

The job of political director – expected to go to Kentucky-based consultant Scott Jennings – will instead be filled by David James, who served as a senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. He has also worked at the Republican National Committee and helped lead the Pennsylvania Republican Party.

“After a successful announcement where Jeb really laid out how he is uniquely prepared to fix the problems in Washington, we are happy to be building out a political operation with David, Scott and the rest of the team that will spread that message in the primary and caucus states,” said Tim Miller, a spokesman for Bush.


Bush rolled into Tampa Friday for the Hillsborough Lincoln Day Dinner, and he was a man on fire.

Capping off a week of cross-country campaigning after his presidential launch rally on Monday in Miami, Bush clearly relished the moment as he walked onto the stage in Tampa to a roaring two-minute standing ovation. To the acclaim of over 500 rabid Republicans, Bush announced that his Florida campaign headquarters would be located in Tampa, a strategic move that signals confidence in his ability to reach far beyond his South Florida home and push deep into the vote-rich I-4 corridor.

Bush then gave one of the best speeches he’s delivered, stressing his now-familiar themes of upward social mobility, the need to completely revamp our system of public education, and the imperative of projecting power overseas to thwart Islamic extremism and Russian aggression.

His campaign also released a Jeb-by-the-numbers video that is clearly intended to contrast Bush’s record of accomplishment as Florida’s hands-on governor with the less tangible accomplishments of his legislative rivals.

Bush’s enthusiastic reception in the Tampa Bay area contrasts sharply with events planned for presidential contender Marco Rubio at about the same time. Rubio was scheduled to have two fundraisers in Sarasota, and both were canceled because of an inability to generate enough support for the events. Campaign pros often speak about early fundraising as the informal but critical “first primary,” and if so Rubio has encountered an enthusiasm gap in a wealthy area of the state known for the largesse of its political donors.

“It was obvious tonight that Bush has an infectious fire in the belly for this campaign,” said former Speaker of the Florida House Will Weatherford. “If I were in the field, I would be worried. This man is on a mission”

Friday provided only a few data points in what will ultimately be a 500-day slog to picking the next president, but Bush’s overwhelming reception in Tampa and Rubio’s underwhelming showing in Sarasota point to the early beginnings of what may be starkly different trajectories within the 1-4 corridor.

>>>This picture here tells you how well The Shark Tank’s Javier Manjarres’ book performed at the Hillsborough GOP’s charity auction.

AT MIAMI-DADE GOP, A HOMECOMING FOR MARCO RUBIO via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

It was homecoming for Rubio at the Miami-Dade Republican Party … The Florida senator and 2016 presidential candidate headlined the local GOP’s annual Lincoln Day fund-raiser. They booked him a year ago, long before he launched his candidacy. The choice proved prescient: The party sold more tickets than it had since 1989, Chairman Nelson Diaz said.

With the loyalties of Miami Republicans split between Rubio and that other local candidate, no one on stage uttered the words “Jeb Bush”… was alluded to several times. But this night was Rubio’s.

“I am not running against any of my fellow Republicans,” Rubio insisted, addressing the news media. “I know they want us to fight. I know they want us to argue. It makes for better articles.”

He directly poked fun at a New York Times story that detailed Rubio’s finances — a story he then used as a campaign fund-raising pitch. … He declared himself “proud” to be from a state with four presidential candidates — also Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee — and “from a city with more presidential candidates per capita than any city in America.”

Seated in the ballroom at the DoubleTree by Hilton Miami Airport & Convention Center were longtime Rubio friends he praised by name, including “political godmother” Rebeca Sosa, a county commissioner, and David Rivera, a former congressman. Rubio’s wife, Jeanette, and their four children were also in attendance — a rare occurrence, he pointed out, considering how much time he’s spent on the road since declaring his candidacy in April.


A majority of early-state insiders say that Rubio’s lack of national experience will prove problematic in the GOP primary after seven years of President Obama, who was also a first-term senator when he ran. … The Florida senator has been likened to Obama because of his speaking skills and compelling personal narrative. And like Obama, Rubio made the leap from a state legislature to the Senate, where he hasn’t yet completed his first term. According to 61 percent of all Republicans surveyed — and 63 percent of Democrats — the experience question will be a problem. It’s a slightly bigger challenge among Iowa Republicans: 63 percent of those surveyed say it will be an issue, while 57 percent of New Hampshire Republicans said the same.

A New Hampshire Republican, who like all participants was granted anonymity in order to speak freely, added, “Every election selects the candidate that corrects the perceived deficiencies of the current occupant of the White House. After 7 years of an eloquent, one-term senator — the GOP is going to look for something different.”

“Without a doubt, when push comes to shove later this year, Rubio will be faced with being too young without enough experience,” said another.

“Rubio’s relative lack of federal experience is fair game for his rivals, but he had significantly more state legislative experience than Obama,” an Iowa Republican said. “The only way the experience question hurts him is if he comes across as inexperienced. So far, that hasn’t been an issue.”


As his father was on stage … fielding questions from the crowd, Jeb Bush Jr., the third and youngest son of … Jeb Bush, was playing the role of seat filler. He sat listening from the bleachers and later hung back quietly as the candidate posed for pictures with admirers. Earlier in the day in another town, he watched from a distance, arms crossed, as his father pitched Iowa Republicans for the first time as an official candidate.

John Ellis Bush Jr. is nicknamed Jebby — though he prefers Jeb — or “2.0,” as some campaign aides call him. The 31-year-old serves as a frequent travel companion and active campaign surrogate for his father, with a focus on building support among Hispanic and millennial voters.

It is a role once played by Jeb Bush himself for his father, George H.W. Bush, and for his brother, George W. Bush.

Jeb Bush’s oldest son, George P. Bush … will play a limited role because of his day job. His daughter, Noelle, 37, and his wife, Columba, aren’t expected to make many appearances. When asked this week, Jeb Bush suggested that his older brother might not campaign with him, either.

But Jeb Jr. has been close to his father for several years. They shared a Miami office suite, where they ran Jeb Bush & Associates, a consulting firm that focused on the healthcare, technology, energy and real estate sectors. After deciding last year to run for president, his father divested his business interests and left his son to run a few projects on his own.

Jeb Jr. has already served as his father’s liaison to major GOP fundraising events and has headlined fundraisers for younger donors at Miami nightclubs, Washington restaurants and New York apartments.


— “Five myths about Jeb Bush” via Brian Crowley of The Washington Post

— “Marco Rubio, Everyman” via Adam Wren of POLITICO Magazine


The American Civil Liberties Union, looking to increase its effectiveness, is launching a major political advocacy program … raised or received commitments for $80 million to back up a 501(c)(4) and announced that veteran Democratic operative Karin Johanson has been hired as its first-ever national political director.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said that he wants the 95-year-old group to be as well known for its political work as its use of the courts.

The $80 million figure is fresh money collected over the past eight months, with the hopes of more. It is also in addition to the $26 million raised annually in dues from its half-million members. The group is trying to build on the infrastructure it already has in each of the 50 states, where they will integrate federal lobbying and state advocacy.

“It has become increasingly clear that we can’t rely upon litigation or old-style lobbying,” Romero said in an interview. “The gridlock in Washington is suffocating … Sitting down with legislators, walking through the pros and cons of a particular bill and trying to cajole them to do the right thing increasingly draws limited dividends. The place to light a fire under them is in their home district.”

The ACLU will soon pick three states with high incarceration rates and then sponsor ballot initiatives next year aiming to force sentencing reform. Five states are being considered, but they’ll pick just three so that the group can go all-in and score some tangible victories.

CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA PLANS JULY 15 SENATE RACE ANNOUNCEMENT via Patricia Mazzei and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Carlos Lopez-Cantera left little room for doubt … that he’s running for U.S. Senate in 2016 … Florida’s LG told Miami-Dade County Republicans at their annual fundraising bash that he will announce his plans July 15.

He spoke at the Miami-Dade GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner before Rubio. … The lieutenant governor used his time to outline the contours of his candidacy. He also said that his wife, Renee … has been encouraging him to consider a run — the clearest sign yet that Lopez-Cantera plans to jump in the race.

By not becoming a candidate until July, Carlos Lopez-Cantera would avoid a June 30 campaign-finance reporting deadline. His first-quarterly disclosure wouldn’t be due until October, giving Lopez-Cantera several more months to schmooze political donors and try to make a splash when his first numbers come out.

He would need to prove fundraising muscle. The only big-name Republican in the race so far, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, a tea-party favorite, has lined up formidable support from several conservative political action committees, including Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Senate Conservatives Fund. Another congressman, Jeff Miller of Chumuckla, is also likely to run.


Republican Chuck Sheridan, from Merritt Island, has filed a campaign account for term-limited Andy Gardiner’s Senate District 13 seat, according to the state Division of Elections website.

Sheridan joins Orlando Republican Dean Asher and Orlando Democrat Rick Roach to campaign for the seat, which covers Orange and Brevard counties.


Those paying close attention to the 2016 election should exercise caution as they read the polls. Because of the high cost, the difficulty in locating the small number of voters who will actually turn out in primaries and the increasing reliance on non-probability Internet polls, you are likely to see a lot of conflicting numbers.

[T]he cellphone problem is more acute in states than it is at the national level, because area codes and exchanges often no longer respect state or congressional boundaries. Some polling organizations will move to sampling from voter lists, which will miss recently registered voters and campaigns’ efforts to mobilize them.

We are less sure how to conduct good survey research now than we were four years ago, and much less than eight years ago. And don’t look for too much help in what the polling aggregation sites may be offering. They, too, have been falling further off the track of late. It’s not their fault. They are only as good as the raw material they have to work with. In short, polls and pollsters are going to be less reliable.

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LEGISLATURE PASSES $78.7 BILLION BUDGET IN OVERTIME via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press

After a sprawling and messy budget fight that spawned lawsuits and finger-pointing, the fractured Republican-controlled Florida Legislature approved a nearly $79 billion budget and ended its special session Friday.

Legislators were racing against the clock to pass the budget after they failed to pass one during their regular two-month session that ended in late April.

The final vote was 37-0 in the Senate and 96-17 in the House. It followed two days of debate in which some legislators expressed frustration at the drawn-out budget battle caused by a stalemate over health care. The Senate wanted to expand health insurance coverage for low-income Floridians; the House did not.

“There’s a lot of things we didn’t do in this budget; that’s why they make next year,” said state Sen. Don Gaetz.

The budget heads next to Gov. Scott, who has only 10 days to review it and decide whether to use his line-item veto power to ax spending included in the plan. State government will be partially shut down if a new budget is not signed by July 1.


— “What passed, what failed in Florida’s 2015 legislative session” via the Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau

— “A long hard session, with many issues left unresolved” via Matt Dixon and James Rosica of Naples Daily News

— “Talk of big legislative session for environment proved wrong” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Unhappy Amendment 1 backers mull their next move” via Christopher Curry of the Gainesville Sun


Tampa Bay TimesTwo months late, Florida lawmakers approve state budget – “… flirting with fiscal disaster … finally passed a state budget … two months late and many millions of dollars short of what … Scott promised voters.”, After six months, Florida Legislature passes budget – “Scott is expected to wield a heavy veto pen on a budget packed with more than $300 million in last-minute spending by lawmakers.” Reuters, Florida Approves Budget To Miss Government Shutdown – “… breakthrough in prolonged budget negotiations came near midnight on Monday… sudden emergence of $300 million in a wide range of programs and building projects  … ‘turkeys’ … to smooth ruffled feathers.” Lakeland LedgerPassage of Florida Budget Leaves Polk Wanting – “Reaction to the final budget has been lukewarm at best … some of the most contentious budget spending areas: education, health care and the environment.” News-Press.comFlorida budget kind to Southwest Florida  — “Local winners included Florida Gulf Coast University … The Salvation Army received money for six beds for clients … Bob Janes Triage and Low Demand Center … several Lee County restoration projects. … But the budget has no pay raises for state employees … Democrats pointed out the boost in school funding came largely because of an expected surge in home values that will trigger a rise in property taxes.” Panama City News Herald, ‘Ma’ Barker House, beef marketing, insects among Florida budget items – “… Free orange juice … marketing money … promote Florida tourism by residents of the state … $250,000 for a two-story house in Marion County where Arizona Donnie “Ma” Barker was killed in 1935 amid a shootout with members of the FBI.” WCTVSenate takes parting shots at House before final budget vote – “Senator Nancy Detert … ‘There’s an old expression ‘you can’t choose your relatives.’ We also can’t choose our colleagues down the hall …’”

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: No big surprise, but Senate records show #FLLeg did deliver the budget and the budget-related bills to @FLGovScott last night

FLORIDA’S BATTLE OVER HEALTH CARE LIKELY TO RETURN IN 2016 via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press

A bruising budget battle that divided Republicans in the Florida Legislature is over for now, but the truce is likely only to last a few months. … Legislators passed a nearly $79 billion budget … with just days to spare.

“It’s kind of the new norm,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner, who works as an executive at an Orlando-area hospital. “Until we come up with a long term healthcare solution for the uninsured that’s just going to be where we are.”

The main problem is that state legislators this year dipped into a budget surplus and steered it to the state’s hospitals to replace dwindling federal aid that had been paid to the hospitals to treat the poor and uninsured.

House leaders argue that instead of expanding coverage the state should overhaul health care in other ways, including removing red tape so that new hospitals can be built quicker and letting nurses prescribe medicines. During the June special session the House passed several healthcare bills but they were never considered by the Senate.

Top House Republicans warned the expansion could put taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars and that the Obama administration may back out of its promise to pay the entire bill for the first few years and 90 percent after that. They also feared that a larger than anticipated number of recipients would sign up, further increasing the financial burden on the state.

Legislators are returning to the state Capitol early next year because they moved up their session starting date to January. A big question is whether or not tensions will remain between House and Senate Republicans when they begin work on next year’s budget.


No rest for the weary Florida lawmaker. Make that about 80 days of rest.

Even as the Sine Die hanky fell on the 2015A Special Legislative Session, and ink dries on a $79 billion budget sitting on Gov. Scott’s desk, plans for next year’s session are already well under way.

A joint memo … from Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli announced preparations for the 2016 Regular Legislative Session, with a schedule of interim committee meetings.

Starting less than 90 days from now, legislative committees will begin meeting in Tallahassee on Wednesday, September 16, through Friday, September 18. Next comes meetings – for Monday through Friday – on the weeks of Oct. 5 and 19Nov. 2, 16 and 30. The Regular Session is set to convene Tuesday, January 12, 2016.


It was the kind of encounter that gives child welfare judges nightmares: A 25-year-old male “transporter” with all of three days on the job, and no real background check. And a 17-year-old girl who wound up in foster care partly because she had fallen victim to forced prostitution.

When the eight-hour drive was over, the foster child had been victimized yet again, and the driver was under investigation for rape. It was also the kind of encounter that prompts child welfare judges to write scathing orders, which is what Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia did late last month, when she called the actions of a private social service agency borderline “reckless.”

“The Court feels impotent as to what actions or sanctions it can legally take,” Sampedro-Iglesia wrote in an order dated May 29. “Nothing that this Court can do or order the agency to do can fix all the wrongs this child has suffered. The agency is one more entity that has failed this child.”

Our Kids, the organization that oversees foster care and adoption services in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties under contract with the Department of Children & Families, declined to discuss the 17-year-old, whose case was being managed by the Family Resource Center, an Our Kids subcontractor. The Family Resource Center’s director, Oren Wunderman, at first agreed to discuss the girl, but, later, inquiries were referred to a Miami law firm, which also declined to comment.

“The alleged abuse this child suffered, at the hands of the employee of the Family Resource Center of Miami, is outrageous,” a spokeswoman for DCF said.

“Upon learning this information, the department immediately contacted law enforcement. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure they have what they need during their active investigation, in order to bring a just resolution to the issue.”

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ICYMI: FLORIDA UNEMPLOYMENT RISES SLIGHTLY TO 5.7 PERCENT via Cameron Saucier and Jeff Harrington of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida’s ongoing economic recovery has hit a spring swoon. … The state’s unemployment rate ticked up to 5.7 percent in May, rising from 5.6 percent a month earlier and widening the gap with the national jobless rate of 5.5 percent. The state added a relatively meager 17,100 jobs, bringing its total number of jobs up by 268,500 compared with a year ago.

Florida’s sub 1 percent job growth over the month failed to keep up with a surge of new residents. In fact, Florida’s population of 16-and-up residents swelled by 21,000 in May, even as the size of its workforce shrunk by 27,000. Economists say some of the disconnect is likely tied to retiring baby boomers.

Many economists are scrupulous when considering monthly labor force indicators. Job losses resulting from leaving a current job to enter or search for a new one, also called frictional unemployment, sometimes accounts for swings in monthly unemployment numbers.

Part of the tepid monthly job growth may also be seasonal. … Hiring may have slowed in May as the labor market recoiled.

RICK SCOTT PLANS STATE TOUR TO TOUT TAX CUT PLAN via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott is … planning a whirlwind tour of Florida on Monday, hitting seven cities in about 12 hours to hold press conferences to celebrate the tax cut package. It starts in Fort Myers at 8:30 a.m., and hits Miami, Greenacres, St. Petersburg, Winter Garden, Jacksonville and finally Pensacola.

Scott’s St. Petersburg event is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. at the CI Group, 12115 28th Street North, St. Petersburg. The Miami event is set for 10:30 a.m. at Sergio’s Restaurant, 1640 NW 87th Ave., Miami.

The centerpiece of the tax cut plan is a reduction in the state’s communications tax charged on most cellular phone and cable television services. The 6.65 percent rate will drop to 4.92 percent, saving a consumer $20 a year on a $100 a month bill.


Gov. Scott’s presidential candidates summit earlier this month in Orlando happened in large part thanks to Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts. … New campaign finance records show Disney donated nearly a quarter million to Scott’s Let’s Get to Work political fundraising committee on June 2, the same day the Republican governor held an Economic Growth Summit at a Disney hotel that drew some of the top GOP candidates for 2016.

Let’s Get to Work reported collecting $252,503.34 from the Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts. It’s the single largest donation to Scott’s political committee this year from a donor, not counting the Republican Party of Florida, which transferred $500,000 to the governor in January.

On its website, Let’s Get to Work said the money was for “travel, food and beverages.”


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a steering committee to address climate change. The commission maintains computer modeling programs that show how climate change will affect water and land crucial to wildlife. It holds regular seminars to educate staff on the latest climate science.

On its website, the commission has a “Climate Change 101” page that addresses key challenges the state faces.

Eight miles from the state commission’s Tallahassee headquarters, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which bills itself as the state’s “lead agency for environmental management and stewardship,” states that it is only monitoring sea-level rise. That is its sole effort to address climate change.

The emphasis on “climate change” within the DEP has declined over the past five years during Gov. Scott’s tenure in office, according to earlier reports from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. For instance, a Web page titled “Climate Change and Coral Reefs” hasn’t been updated since November 18, 2011, the year Scott took office.

The difference in the two agencies is that FWC, created by voters in 1999 as an independent commission and run by an autonomous board, does not answer to the governor. The DEP reports to the governor’s office.

Before Scott’s election, DEP was aggressively studying climate change. When Scott, a climate change skeptic, took office in 2011, the terms “climate change” and “global warming” began to disappear from DEP reports, according to a previous analysis by FCIR. Former DEP employees recounted meetings where they were ordered not to use the terms. In emails, DEP officials instructed employees and volunteers to stay away from the subject.

Scott and DEP officials have denied the existence of any policy prohibiting the terms, but they have never attempted to explain or dispute FCIR’s findings.


Less than three years from removing the black bear from its endangered and threatened species, Florida is poised this fall to hold a hunt.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will meet … in Sarasota to take a final vote on the bear hunt, which would likely allow 80 bears to be killed in the last week of October by hunters in the Big Cypress area.

More than 2,000 people commented on the plan, with nearly 78 percent, or 1,551, saying they were against the hunt, according to FWC records. About 18 percent of respondents said they either support the hunt as proposed or with caveats.

Regardless, Florida game managers voted unanimously in April to move forward with the hunt. A second vote next week would set the framework for the first bear hunt here in more than two decades.

There are seven primary ranges in Florida, and each region will be managed differently. FWC says the goal is to reduce the population by 20 percent, although the exact number of bears living in any of the ranges is not known.

— “No clear reason for open season on Florida black bear” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

MUST-CLICK FOR ADAMS STREET’ERS — “Where the billions spent on lobbying come from, in maps” via The Washington Post


Mario Bailey, Yolanda Cash Jackson, Becker & Poliakoff: City of Lauderhill; RYO Cigar Association

Brian Ballard, Jan Gorrie, Ballard Partners: Indian River Memorial Hospital

Kevin Besserer: Florida Association of Realtors

Genessa Casanova: Florida Association of Realtors

John Gray, GrayRobinson: American Maglev Technology; Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission; Williams Acquisition Holding Company

Jeffrey Knappen: Actavis

Gary Rutledge, Rutledge Ecenia: Village of Key Biscayne

Alice Vickers: Florida Alliance For Consumer Protection; Public Interest Law Section of The Florida Bar


On Context Florida: Jeb Bush earned the moniker of Florida’s “Education Governor” because he made education his primary policy focus while in office and the area he most focused on since. As he prepares to run for higher office, Bush now relies on his “education revolution” to make his case. But is Florida really a model for a national education renaissance, asks Dan Gelber. Jac Wilder VerSteeg says he has to believe Jeb Bush when he says he wouldn’t let his priest – or even the pope – dictate his economic policy. In fact, if taking Jeb’s recent statements about religion seriously, an obvious conclusion is that Jeb doesn’t take his religion seriously. In our republic, write former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and Rich Ramos, the past six months has been enough to make all of us wonder whether there’s anything we can do to unify and lift us up as one nation. Almost every day another story illustrates how divided we are. They offer suggestions as to what we should do to come together as a nation. Life is filled with connections, says Ed Moore. We live every day by perusing ourselves through a myriad of connections, even beginning each day driving to work on jammed roads, filled with cars piloted by people making their own connections. The quality of the life we live is in part determined by the steps we take and the impressions we leave with the connections we make.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.


Alabama and Florida State, winners of three of the last four national championships, are finalizing a deal for a neutral-site game in 2017, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox told a group of Seminoles boosters at a board of directors meeting in Charleston, S.C., on Friday that the game is set and although a contract has not been signed, an agreement was in place.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY from the weekend to our very own A.G. Gancaski, Bascom Communication’s Lyndsey CruleyBrian Hughes, Duke Energy’s Michele Cavallo, Shannon Love, the Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas, Todd Josko of Floridian Partners, and Bill Young. Celebrating today is Drew Weatherford.

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.