Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – May 21

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

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

Today’s SachsFact is brought to you by the public affairs, integrated marketing and reputation management experts at Sachs Media Group: Three years after his quest for riches began on Florida’s west coast, Hernando de Soto’s journey came to an end. On this date in 1542, the Spanish conquistador died of a fever on the banks of the Mississippi River. De Soto’s route never led him to the huge deposits of gold and silver he sought, but he is believed to have held the first Christmas celebration in the continental U.S. – in modern-day Tallahassee. And how many people get TWO Florida counties named after them?

OBAMA TO FUNDRAISE IN FLORIDA NEXT WEEK via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

President Obama will drop by Coconut Grove next week for two fund-raisers to benefit the Democratic Party.

Political donors have been invited to a pair of May 27 events … The first is billed as a “discussion” at the home of mortgage broker Joe Falk. The second is a dinner at the home of developer Stephen Bittel. Both men raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s last presidential campaign. The events were first reported by the Palm Beach Post.

Between 20 and 25 contributors will have to pay $33,400 to attend the discussion at Falk’s home. Between 40 and 45 contributors will have to pay $10,000 each — or $15,000 per couple — to attend the dinner at Bittel’s home. Both events will benefit the Democratic National Committee.

The 2016 political campaign season is clearly getting into swing: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has planned a Florida fund-raising swing of her own — and a still-undisclosed public event — for May 28-29.


Bush thinks he has a clear edge over Hillary Clinton on one part of their political track records — emails.

Bush … criticized the Democratic presidential front-runner for claiming the emails from her time at the State Department are “not mine” and therefore she has limited ability to unilaterally release them to the public.

“I released 250,000 emails and put them online not just for the press to see, but anyone can go online and see my emails,” Bush said when asked about Clinton’s statement … that she no longer has access to the 55,000 pages of emails she turned over to State last year.

“I don’t know her deal, I just know that emails are a two-way street, right?” Bush said. “You send them and you receive them. So if someone sent them, if someone received them, it seems like you ought to have the ability to know where your emails are.”

Bush, who typically takes questions at town halls and from reporters when making public appearances, has also been critical of Clinton’s unwillingness to answer questions from the media, but said … that her brief Q&A with reporters in Iowa … was a positive sign.

“I’m sure now she’ll start doing more of it, I hope,” Bush said. “If you’re a candidate or thinking about being a candidate, it’s part of the process for sure. I’m happy to answer your questions.”

PIC DU JOUR here of Columba Bush, who was photographed Tuesday in Coral Gables, Florida getting into her green Mini Cooper with a clearly visible Spanish-language message on the back-end. ‘Viva Jeb! Presidente 2016,’ it read.


Rubio took another shot … at the Obama administration’s effort to restore ties with Cuba, slamming the island’s communist leaders for human rights abuses and insisting that loosening travel restrictions will only boost the Cuban government’s coffers. … comments during a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing came a day before American and Cuban negotiators were to sit down to continue talks on reopening embassies in each other’s capitals, the next stage in a rapprochement after decades of estrangement.

“Their views on human rights are not legitimate, they’re immoral,” Rubio said of the Cuban government.

Rubio said Americans who travel to Cuba would benefit the Cuban state, and especially its military, because so many hotels and tourist establishments are owned by the government, much of it on property that was improperly confiscated.

Rubio also noted that other countries don’t have embargoes on Cuba, but that despite the availability of trade from nations such as Japan, the Cuban people were still largely blocked from full access to the Internet and other technologies. The reason, he pointed out, was the Cuban government’s policies.

“Why isn’t Cuba awash in Samsungs?” Rubio asked, adding later: “This is a government that won’t even allow you to bring in certain books to the island.”

10’S A CROWD? GOP PREPARES FOR DOUBLE DIGITS ON DEBATE STAGE via Steve Peoples of the Associated Press

The first Republican presidential debate will feature no fewer than 10 candidates … guidelines released by debate hosts Fox News and Facebook, which offer the first clues as to how the GOP will handle its largest presidential class in recent memory. Party officials have been working privately in recent weeks to prevent its first debate in August from becoming a nationally televised circus, while lesser-known candidates have been lobbying for access.

Only announced candidates will be allowed to participate, according to the new guidelines. Participation will be limited to those who “place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by Fox News.” More than 10 candidates would be allowed on the debate stage in the event of a tie.

The winners could include the likes of Donald Trump, a businessman and reality television star who has already launched a presidential exploratory committee. While some party officials were reluctant to grant him a spot on stage should he run, he has placed within the top 10 in most recent polls.

The losers could include statewide office holders who have struggled to gain national traction. Those on the bubble include former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and former technology executive Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the Republican field.

Several candidates have lobbied Republican officials in recent weeks to consider creative options, including debate “heats” featuring seven or eight candidates at a time on consecutive nights.

CNN, which plans to hold a GOP debate in September, said Wednesday it will divide its event into two parts: one featuring the 10 highest-polling candidates, the other including “candidates who meet the minimum threshold of 1 percent in public polling but are ranked outside the top 10.”

— “‘I’m running for president’ flub draws third FEC complaint from liberal group against Jeb Bush” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times 

— “Pitbull a fan of Bush’s ‘slick’ humor” via Judy Kurtz of The Hill

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Bush will be in New Hampshire for a second straight day- he has a breakfast with the state Business Caucus and the Concord Chamber of Commerce followed by a meet-and-greet in Salem. Rubio holds two events with high-level congressional staffers Washington – a breakfast with chiefs of staffs of House members and a lunch with chiefs of staffs of his fellow senators.


… Bush’s plan to delay actually entering the 2016 election and instead spend time fundraising and coordinating directly with a friendly super PAC has revolutionized presidential campaign finance. And now, a likely Republican Senate candidate — also from Florida — has adopted the Bush model for his own race.

Allies of Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera … considering a Senate run … will wait to formally announce his candidacy until he’s had time to meet with prospective donors via a newly minted super PAC, Reform Washington, and a leadership PAC by the same name.

Thus, like Bush, Lopez-Cantera could solicit unlimited sums of money for a committee that would support him in one of the country’s most expensive political races next year. Though his eventual campaign wouldn’t be allowed to coordinate with the super PAC, it’s possible the outside group could wind up spending more on Lopez-Cantera’s behalf to run TV ads in Florida’s many expensive media markets.

“Florida is a really big state. I’ve been all around it,” Lopez-Cantera told National Journal in an interview last week. “Having strong voices and those willing to invest in getting that message out to ensure this seat remains Republicans remains important.”

Lopez-Cantera, a 41-year old Miami native, close friend of Sen. Marco Rubio, and former four-term state House member, is expected to join a Republican primary race that already includes a sitting congressman, Rep. Ron DeSantis, and has drawn interest from several prominent Florida Republicans. DeSantis ended the first quarter with more than $1.1 million on hand. A likely Democratic contender, Rep. Patrick Murphy, already has raised $1.25 million for his campaign.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks, a trusted provider of industry-leading communications and networking services to businesses of all sizes, from startups to large, multi-site organizations. Our Enterprise Solutions provides the fiber connectivity, cloud and managed services  today’s large organizations demand, while our Business  Solutions team works with small- to mid-size companies to ensure they get the right services to fit their needs and their budget. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more at***

STATE SHUTDOWN WOULD AFFECT MOST FLORIDIANS via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat

You think nobody would notice if state government shut down?

In their lists of “critical services” submitted to Scott this week, for consideration in a “continuation budget” to be submitted to a June 1-20 special session, different agencies cited numerous examples of what would happen if government shut down.

In a worst-case scenario, here are just a few things you might notice … Lottery ticket sales would cease at over 13,000 retail locations … Road resurfacing and maintenance, and installation of guard rails, would stop …. Operations of the Florida Abuse Hotline, child-protective investigations and determination of eligibility for food stamps would be affected. … So would payments to foster parents housing children taken from dangerous situations.

Thousands of people with developmental disabilities could see services curtailed, potentially meaning family members would have to quit their jobs and stay home to take care of them. … “Florida would cease to be part of the Medicaid partnership,” without budget authority to pull down federal matching funds. Medicaid runs about $60 million a day in state and federal payments to managed-care plans, which might “float” their bills for a short while – but there are no guarantees.

Public schools couldn’t meet payroll for 194,551 teachers. … The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission might have to cut back on boating and hunting safety enforcement, response time for “conflict wildlife calls” – bears, panthers, pythons, etc. – might be slower and issuance of hunting and fishing licenses would be affected.


Florida lawmakers want the upcoming special session to get off to a smooth start, but the Senate first needs to overcome a procedural speed bump. … under Senate rules, a bill (in this case, the budget and related measures) cannot be debated on the Senate floor without any committee deliberations in a special session unless all senators agree because the budget is being carried over from the regular session, when the Senate voted for it (a 36-0 vote on April 1).

“The goal is to get to the budget conference as soon as possible,” said Katie Betta, a spokeswoman for Senate President Andy Gardiner. “He wants to make sure all senators are comfortable with that.”

Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner … supports starting the conference right away. “This is the same budget that we all voted for,” Joyner said. “There’s no reason for us not to bring it to the point where it goes to conference, because nothing has changed.”


As state lawmakers prepare to complete unfinished business in Tallahassee in a special session slated to begin in twelve days, one of the most important members of the 120-member state Legislature said … he’s not exactly sure what to expect when the House and Senate return next month to the Capitol to hammer out a budget agreement.

“We really don’t know how this is going to play out,” said Brandon area state Senator Tom Lee, the Senate Appropriations Committee Chair. Lee was one of eight members of the Hillsborough County legislative delegation who gathered at Maestro’s restaurant inside the Straz Performing Arts Center on Wednesday. They were invited to speak before the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce in what was supposed to be a review of the legislative session …

“All I can say is, ‘what’s your plan?’ Lee asked, regarding those on the House side who have found themselves in a bitter feud with the Senate on the loss of over a billion dollars in Low Income Pool funding. The Obama administration has instead countered by advocating for the Legislature to expand Medicaid as a way to deal with the state’s health care problems, but that idea has been firmly and repeatedly rejected by both the state House of Representatives and Gov. Scott. “You can’t just keep on saying no. Republicans control every office in Tallahassee,” Lee said, “and no is not an answer.”

Lee said that with the LIP funding definitely not coming to Florida after June 30, Tampa General Hospital is staring at a $90 million annual cut. After meeting with his counterpart in the House on appropriations last week, Trinity Republican Richard Corcoran, Lee maintained that he was “very confident” that there is now a “reality check” in the Legislature about the fact that those monies aren’t coming from Washington after next month.

TWEET, TWEET: @JeremySWallace: Asked at GOP event why so much Republican fight in Tally, FL Sen Detert says: “The Democrats just didn’t send enough people to fight with.”


U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and 11 other Republican members of Florida’s congressional delegation sent a letter to President Obama asking him to continue the federal Low Income Pool program in Florida.

The Health and Human Services Department plans to discontinue the current form of the LIP program, which provides hospitals with charity-care funding, by June 30. That has thrown Florida’s healthcare budget into disarray, forcing a special legislative session beginning June 1 for lawmakers to craft a budget. The Senate wants to expand Medicaid under Obamacare to make up for some of the lost funding; the House doesn’t. The feds say they want to work with the state to reach some sort of solution.

“HHS’s refusal to continue LIP funding in Florida because the state has not expanded Medicaid is an inappropriate overreach and in direct contradiction to the Supreme Court decision,” the Republicans’ letter reads. It notes Jackson Health System in Miami would lose $237.2 million next year, and Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach would lose $16.2 million.

“We are requesting your immediate action to reverse HHS’s decision to end LIP funding,” the members of Congress wrote. “The well-being of Florida’s low-income families will remain in jeopardy until your administration approves funding for these vital health services.”

Among the letter’s co-signers were Miami Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart, and Ponte Vedra Beach Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is running for Senate in 2016.


A Scott-appointed panel formed to probe hospital finances – but containing only one health care professional — held its inaugural meeting … with members concluding quickly that they are facing a complex, new world.

Chairman Carlos Beruff, a builder and major Scott donor, acknowledged that because of the steep learning curve facing the nine-member commission, it will have little bearing on next month’s special session of the Legislature on health care and crafting a state budget.

“We’ve got more questions than answers,” said Beruff, during an afternoon of data-packed presentations from state health regulators.

He said issues before the panel, slated next to meet in Orlando, “need a bigger magnifying glass” before any recommendations could be expected on improving patient outcomes and controlling costs.


After the Florida Department of Health denied Jackson Health System its bid for a trauma unit in South Miami-Dade April 30, Jackson is fighting back, saying that the department changed the requirements of the application beyond what is outlined in state law, leaving the hospital in a “guessing game.”

In a petition to the department … Jackson fought back against the department’s claims that its application for a license to operate a trauma unit at Jackson South Community Hospital was denied because it was missing documentation and some of the information was not up to state standards.

Jackson said it corrected the errors in early April but the license was still denied because the department “invented, or created” requirements in the application without notifying the health system. That left Jackson scrambling to prepare its documentation, according to the petition.

“Not only would JSCH [Jackson South Community Hospital] be forced to guess, or speculate what the right documentation would be, it would require them to have a mystical ability to know what the department’s ad hoc-created documentation would be,” the petition said.


The Sunshine State’s crime rate fell nearly 5 percent from 2013 to last year, and is now at its lowest in 44 years, according to the Annual Crime in Florida report … “The total number of crimes fell 3.6 percent from last year which translates into 25,476 fewer crimes than in 2013,” said a press release from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“Overall the number of violent crimes dropped 0.7 percent while nonviolent crime fell 4.1 percent,” the agency said. “Murder and sex offenses were up slightly while robbery and burglary fell.”

Of Florida’s 402 law enforcement agencies, 396 participated in the 2014 Uniform Crime Report, representing stats for 99.7 percent of the state’s population, it said.

ACTUAL PRESS RELEASE: “Don’t Worry, Bee Happy: Florida’s Bee Colonies Increasing” via Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office.

SPOTTED at the Special Operations Forces Industry Convention in Tampa: Rep. Jimmie Smith.


… The Florida Chamber of Commerce named Todd Powell as North Central Florida Regional Chair.

Powell is General Manager of Real Estate at Plum Creek, the nation’s largest private landowner for forest products and mineral extraction. He will serve a year-long term as one of twelve people in the Regional Chair Program.

“Plum Creek is committed to investing the time and resources necessary to support the Florida Chamber’s initiatives to make Florida the number one place to work and live,” Powell said in a statement, adding that his appointment is an “opportunity to help secure Florida’s future.”


Brian Ballard, Wansley Walters, Ballard Partners: Kristi House

Terry Lewis, Lewis Longman & Walker: Minto Communities

Stacey Webb, Southern Strategy Group: GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation

SPOTTED at the Shave Cave in Sundial St. Petersburg: Lobbyist Travis Moore

***Metz, Husband & Daughton is a full-service  firm dedicated to overcoming clients’ legislative, legal and regulatory challenges. An energetic team of highly-skilled members; MHD has the experience, expertise and reputation necessary to achieve clients’ diverse goals in the policy and political arena.  MHD has proven proficient in achieving results through long-standing representation of Fortune 500 companies, major Florida corporations, and state-wide trade and professional associations.***

TAMPA NAMED FINALIST FOR SUPER BOWLS IN 2019, 2020 via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa has been named one of four finalists for the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls, with a chance to host the biggest event in American sports for the first time in a decade.

Tampa, which has hosted four Super Bowls, most recently in 2009, is a finalist, along with Miami, New Orleans and Atlanta. The four cities will make their bids to NFL owners in May 2016. Los Angeles would also be eligible to bid for the 2020 Super Bowl if an NFL team is playing in a new stadium there by 2018.

“Naturally, we’re excited to work with the Buccaneers and several other community partners to put our best foot forward in the bid process,” said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, which has helped the area land previous Super Bowls, women’s Final Fours in basketball, men’s Frozen Fours in hockey and college football’s national championship in 2017.

Raymond James Stadium has hosted two Super Bowls — Steelers-Cardinals in 2009 and Ravens-Giants in 2001, with old Tampa Stadium hosting the first Super Bowls in Tampa in 1984 (Raiders-Redskins) and 1991 (Giants-Bills).

The next three Super Bowls have been awarded to Santa Clara, Calif., Houston and Minneapolis.

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.