Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – May 6

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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: Combine five up-and-coming musicians with a healthy dose of Clearwater, and you get arguably the greatest riff in rock ‘n’ roll history. It was 50 years ago today that Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones wrote (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction at a Clearwater hotel, while they were in town for a concert at Jack Russell Stadium. Legend has it that Richards woke up with the riff playing in his head; Jagger added lyrics, and the song turned the Stones into superstars. So maybe they found some satisfaction after all.

DAYS UNTIL Mother’s Day: 4; Jacksonville’s Mayoral Election: 13; Debut of Mad Max: Fury Road: 8; Special Session (Maybe) 25; Major League Baseball All-Star game: 68; Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts: 232; First Day of 2016 Legislative Schedule: 251; Florida’s Presidential Primary: 313; Florida’s 2016 Primary Election: 482; Florida’s 2016 General Election: 553.

TOMORROW IS MATT GAETZ’ BIRTHDAY — What do you get the man who Tweets everything?

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Ryan Wiggins: “That thing when prayers are answered before they are even asked. I’m not even a week out of session and am having discussions with a potential new client for next year on an issue I am passionate about. God is great! He is showing me everyday how if you will trust Him and take a leap of faith, He will provide the net.”

STORIES YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN — “Haridopolos Backs Huckabee For Another Presidential Bid” via Sunshine State News AND “Wasserman Schultz Celebrates Four Years as Democratic Chair Alone” via Javier Manjarres of The Shark Tank


According to a new survey conducted by St. Pete Polls and commissioned by Florida Politics, Republican challenger Lenny Curry holds a 49-44.7 lead over Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, the incumbent Democrat. 6.2 percent of voters said they were still undecided with municipal elections less than two weeks away.

Also at stake on that May 19 contest is a battle to replace term-limited Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford.

The race between former DCSO spokesman Ken Jefferson and former Patrol & Enforcement Director Mike Williams has turned nasty and personal, never more than Tuesday night when the two debated as the new poll’s numbers were being crunched.

Jefferson has a slight lead of 46.4 percent to Williams’ 45.5 percent according to the new poll, with 8.2 percent undecided.


Scott signed an executive order … creating a health care commission that he intends to have a look at hospital financing, spending, the role of Medicaid and how it all fits into patient care.

Scott is an opponent of the Senate’s Florida Health Insurance Exchange (FHIX) proposal, a privatized Medicaid expansion … The Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding crafted by the governor fits into at least some of the talking points aired by critics in the debate over expansion.

In the various “whereas” clauses used as reasons for forming the panel, Scott contends there are rising profitability rates across all forms of hospitals in Florida and that payments to doctors and hospitals account for half the health care spending in the state.

The panel is charged with developing a host of findings … Investigate whether health outcomes for patients on Medicaid are “better or worse” than for other patients … how much do taxpayer-funded hospitals spend on lobbyists and political donations.

The commission’s members are to be appointed solely by Scott, who gained much of his personal wealth as a hospital executive. Commission members also can be replaced at any time by the governor.


There are more questions than answers in Tallahassee regarding healthcare financing, Medicaid and the inevitable special session this summer.

One thing is for sure, though: there’s plenty of interest in serving on the healthcare commission that Gov. Scott created through an executive order on Tuesday and tasked with analyzing the state’s healthcare costs and investigate what can be done to lower them.

“It is the intent of this administration to continue to develop cost-effective, patient-cenered approaches for making healthcare services more responsive to the needs of Florida families and to lessen the regulations of government,” the order reads in part.

Scott’s executive order doesn’t mention how many members would be on the commission or if any of them would be lawmakers. Scott will appoint an executive director and the commission will be staffed by the Agency for Health Care Administration.

Scott offered little additional information about the commission or its members other than to say the names would be released “promptly.”


Gov. Scott gave a terse summary on the future of the Senate’s proposal to expand health coverage.

“It’s not going to happen,” Scott said. “There’s not support in the House. I’m not going to support it. It’s not a program that’s worked.”

Scott is slated to meet with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who he has sued for allegedly linking prospects for continued hospital funding with approval of the Senate’s form of privatized Medicaid expansion, the Florida Health Insurance Exchange (FHIX).

Scott is expected to urge federal officials to continue steering more than $1 billion to state hospitals and other health care providers under the low income pool (LIP). But the governor said he has no plans to support FHIX.

“What they ought to be doing is give us a block grant,” Scott said. “Say, these are our goals. We would tell them if we could reach those goals. And if we could, that’s what they ought to give us. That’s what you’d do in business.”

STATE TO DO NATIONAL SEARCH FOR 2 AGENCY HEADS via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Florida will begin a nationwide search to find the heads of two state agencies.

Gov. Scott called for the search Tuesday after the Florida Senate didn’t confirm Scott’s picks for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The agencies report to both Scott and the three elected members of the Cabinet.

Earlier this year the Cabinet put in new procedures after the ouster of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. Cabinet members say they weren’t consulted before the Scott administration pressured Bailey to resign. Scott selected Rick Swearingen as the new commissioner without a job search.

Scott and the Cabinet agreed to keep Swearingen and DEP Secretary Jonathan Steverson in their jobs while the search is underway.

The Senate adjourned last week without confirming selections for more than a dozen agencies.


Lawmakers left the statehouse last week amid a stream of insults and without a budget in place for the fiscal year that begins in July. Most observers seemed to think time away from Tallahassee would lower the temperature in the room and allow budget work to begin but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Senate Appropriations Chair Tom Lee is taking exception to comments House Rules Chair Ritch Workman made in the media about an alimony reform bill left dead on the special order calendar when the House left town three days early.

Lawmakers were rewriting a 2013 alimony bill Gov. Rick Scott vetoed. The Senate measure included a child-custody provision standardizing a 50/ 50 time-share with the judge having discretion to act “in the best interest of the child.”

It was language, the House sponsor, Workman, would not accept … “What he cares about is getting back at the judge that didn’t give him 50/50 time share 15 years ago or whenever he got divorced.”

Lee called out Workman for dragging Lee’s family into the discussion and breaking legislative etiquette not to impugn another member’s motives. Lee said Workman’s comments established a “new low” for legislative debate.

MORE LEGISLATIVE ACRIMONY: “Matt Gaetz also a bully in his legislative district says Okaloosa County Commissioner

EARLY END TO SESSION ALSO STOPS ‘ESTOPPEL’ BILL via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Among the hundreds of bills to die this legislative session was one that would have changed the law governing a little-known part of some real estate closings.

But when SB 736 went up in smoke, it also left unsettled the question of exactly how much it costs to produce “estoppel letters.”

They’re the legal documents sent by a homeowners association for a real estate closing, detailing any amount owed to the association.

A lobbyist for the statewide association of community association managers has said preparing estoppel letters takes time and research, costing anywhere from $15 to $400.

But a South Florida lawmaker called shenanigans last month, saying those prices are blaoted.

“All they do is punch a button on a computer,” said state Sen. Margolis, a Democrat. The associations “never see a problem … until they have to pay … It’s been a ripoff for a while.”

UBER WANTS A SEAT AT THE SPECIAL SESSION via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Lawmakers will return to the Capitol soon in “special session” to write a budget for next year, but Uber also wants them to squeeze in a little time for their legislation. It’s not clear, however, which bill the company prefers.

In an email, the San Francisco-based ride-booking service told its users and supporters “the Florida Legislature had a chance to pass legislation to keep Uber in Florida, but didn’t get it done.”

The company is operating legally and illegally across the state, including the Fort Myers-Naples metro area, though it’s battling with local regulators in other areas, including Tampa.

The email notes “there’s still a chance” in Florida, referring to the special session.

“We need your help to make sure the legislature doesn’t go home again without taking up ridesharing legislation during the special session,” Uber’s email says, providing a link to a petition.

Neither the email nor the petition, which already had 1,700 signers … refers to the specific bills the company wants to see passed. An omnibus House bill (HB 817) would have taken away regulatory power over hired vehicles from cities and counties and reserved it to the state. A Senate bill (SB 1298) would have dealt only with insurance, requiring different levels of coverage depending on whether an Uber driver is giving a ride or in the car waiting for one.

TOP OP-ED — “A Special Session Isn’t The End Of the World — I Promise” by Barney Bishop


Sachs Media Group and Leadership Florida are hosting a special post-legislative session community luncheon at the ballroom of the Tallahassee Doubletree Hotel from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Six members of the Capitol Press Corps will be on hand to discuss the recently ended 2015 Legislative Session and its coming overtime session. Panelists include Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald; John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post; Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union; Gary Fineout of the Associated Press; Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida and Sean Rossman of the Tallahassee Democrat. The forum will also address Florida’s role in the 2016 presidential race, the scramble for Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat, the 2018 race for Florida governor and more.


Alabama says it doesn’t need to be involved in a legal fight between Florida and Georgia over water, unlike earlier disputes when Alabama usually fought alongside Florida in cases involving the three states.

Florida filed a lawsuit in 2013 asking the U. S. Supreme Court to allocate water in the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers between Florida and Georgia and to cap Georgia’s water use. Florida says Georgia is sucking up more water from the rivers, harming oysters in Apalachicola Bay and the seafood industry there.

But Georgia’s motion also prompted Ralph I. Lancaster, the court-appointed special master in the case, to question during an April 7 conference call whether Alabama also should be included in the court case. Although lawyers representing Florida and Georgia both said the case could be resolved without Alabama, Lancaster requested that briefs be filed.

Alabama and Florida often were allies in federal litigation after 1990 as they battled the Corps of Engineers in court over operation of its reservoirs and sought to curb Georgia’s water use. But Florida, in its 2013 lawsuit, said its dispute is with Georgia and Alabama didn’t need to be involved.

In an amicus curiae brief … Alabama’s lawyers wrote that original actions before the Supreme Court, such as Florida’s lawsuit, take considerable time and consume “scarce” state resources.

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HILLARY CLINTON, MARCO RUBIO GAIN FAVOR, NEW TIMES/CBS POLL SAYS via Jonathan Martin and Megan Thee-Brenan of the New York Times

Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to have initially weathered a barrage of news about her use of a private email account when she was secretary of state and the practices of her family’s foundation, an indication that she is starting her second presidential bid with an unusual durability among Democratic voters.

Americans now view Clinton more favorably and as a stronger leader than they did earlier in the year, despite weeks of scrutiny about her ethics, a New York Times/CBS News poll has found. And nearly nine in 10 Democrats say the nation is ready to elect a woman president.

Republican voters showed the most openness to considering Rubio and former Govs. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jeb Bush among their party’s presidential contenders, the survey found.

The Republican primary is largely unformed, with many Republicans indicating openness to a variety of candidates in a large and still growing field. There is positive news for Bush, though. Forty-nine percent of conservative Republican voters think his stance on the issues is about right.

While Bush has faced initial questions about whether he is sufficiently conservative to win a Republican primary, only 22 percent of Republican voters said his views were not conservative enough. Further, 60 percent of Republican voters said having the right experience was more important in a presidential candidate, while only 27 percent said they thought offering fresh ideas was more valuable.

What could also help Bush — along with the other governors or former governors seeking the GOP nomination — is that 73 percent of Republican voters said they preferred candidates with experience outside Washington.

Still, Rubio … seems to have more room to gain in popularity than Huckabee or Bush: Only 17 percent of Republicans said they would not consider supporting him, while 26 percent said they would not back Mr. Huckabee, and 23 percent ruled out supporting Mr. Bush.

Republican voters were least resistant to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin: only 13 percent said they would not consider voting for him. At the opposite extreme, 42 percent of Republicans said they would not consider voting for Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Over all, Democrats enter the next presidential campaign with a better image than Republicans. Forty-three percent of Americans said they had a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party while only 29 percent said the same of the Republican Party.


As he rolls out his candidacy for president, Marco Rubio has been positioning himself as somewhat of an expert on foreign policy.

But now that his candidacy appears to be catching fire, undoubtedly his opinions on world issues will be scrutinized more closely than they have to date.

Since his 2010 election to the U.S. Senate, the Florida lawmaker has joined the hawkish wing of that body. He often aligns with John McCain and Lindsey Graham to advocate for American strength overseas, and always finding fault with President Barack Obama‘s actions.

Now that he’s a full-fledged presidential candidate, his words on foreign policy take on even greater meaning. There should be a lot of anticipation next week when he travels to New York City to address the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, his first visit there in three years.

Not everyone is a fan.

In a recent opinion piece in The Week, Michael Brendan Dougherty called his stances on foreign policy issues, “Criminally overrated.”

He wrote that, “Rubio has a reputation for foreign policy expertise because he chooses to talk about foreign policy often, promises large budgets to the Pentagon, and mostly pronounces the words correctly. Rubio’s foreign policy consists of babyish moralizing, a cultivated ignorance of history, and a deliberate blindness to consequences. This is the same ‘foreign policy expertise’ that led to a misbegotten war in Iraq and empowered Sunni insurgencies across the Middle East.”


… Rubio has tapped a Des Moines-area legislator to head his Iowa campaign. Sen. Jack Whitver … will chair Rubio’s Iowa campaign. Last month, Whitver hosted Rubio at a house party and helped him with some other events … he praised him as a conservative who can inspire the state and the nation.

“I believe that Iowa is ready for a new generation of leadership,” Whitver said.

RON DESANTIS TO ANNOUNCE BID FOR RUBIO’S SENATE SEATvia Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press

DeSantis will announce that he’s running for the Senate seat Marco Rubio is giving up to seek the GOP presidential nomination.

Two advisers close to DeSantis confirmed his plans to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the announcement has not been made public yet.

DeSantis, a favorite among conservative political groups, was elected in 2012 and overwhelmingly re-elected last year. He is a former member of the Navy Judge Advocate General ‘s Corps who was deployed to Iraq in 2007. He will enter the race by releasing a statement, the advisers said.

“As a candidate for Senate, I look forward to offering reforms based on limited government principles that will make our country stronger and more prosperous. I see a bright future for Florida and for America and my campaign will be about the ideas and principles that will help us achieve a more perfect union,” DeSantis said in a copy of the statement provided to AP.

DeSantis is the first major Republican to announce plans to run for Rubio’s seat. He will begin the campaign with more than $1 million that he’ll transfer from a House campaign account.

He is outspoken on issues like federal spending, national security, taxes and the need for congressional term limits.

TWEET, TWEET: @AlexLeary: .@RepJeffMiller to speak tomorrow am to Palm Beach GOP. Sure sign he’s readying entry into US Senate race.

WHO MIGHT RUN FOR MILLER’S SEAT? Panhandle politico Ryan Wiggins weighs in: “Ashton Hayward, Doug Bates, Frank White, David Stafford, Clay Ingram, Grover Robinson, either of the Gaetzs.”


Earlier this week, several more high-falutin’ Democrats came out in support of Patrick Murphy and, with feigned dismay that surprised exactly no one, Alan Grayson cried foul.

Predictably Grayson said, “Florida Democratic voters choose our party nominee, not out-of-touch party bosses sipping cognac in a smoke-filled room in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

First, one has to wonder if there still are any actual smoke-filled rooms in D.C. and, secondly, what … No reference to Gucci loafers from Grayson?

Other than the standard response from Campaign Playbook 101, we find it a little ironic – if not potentially hypocritical – that less than 24 hours later it’s reported by POLITICO that Grayson’s significant other is moving in for the kill in his soon-to-be-open congressional seat.

Now, for all we are told about Dena Minning, it sounds like she is the bio-tech equivalent of a rocket scientist when it comes to sheer IQ power. So this is not a criticism – in any way shape or form – of her.


The hollow-sounding cry of foul from Mr. Grayson will wear a whole lot thinner if he is seen, in any way, giving a leg up to Ms. Minning in party boss style.

SAVE THE DATE: Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor will be hosting a $100-a-ticket campaign kickoff party Wednesday, May 27 to support her re-election to Florida’s 14th Congressional District. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Miromar home of Tom Hall and Ken Jewett, 5215 S. Nichol Street in Tampa – one block from the Tampa Yacht Club.  A spot on the host committee is $1,000; co-hosting is $500 and sponsor is $250.


Domino, who lost a challenge to Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy last year, says he’s running again for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 seat.

Murphy is giving up the seat to pursue a U.S. Senate bid.

Domino spent nearly $1.2 million of his own money on the 2014 race. He won a six-candidate GOP primary but lost by 19.6 points in the general despite the national Republican wave and the district’s slight Republican tilt.

Domino said he “wouldn’t be uncomfortable” putting in another $1 million for his 2016 bid.

TWEET, TWEET: @JacobPerry: Carl Domino’s kids must be pissed that he keeps wasting their inheritance like this.

HAPPENING TOMORROW NIGHT: Former State Rep. Doug Holder will hold an evening reception Thursday in support of his bid for Senate District 28. The event begins 5:30 p.m. at The Francis, 1289 North Palm Avenue in Sarasota, Florida. Questions and RSVPs are through Meredith O’Rourke at

APPOINTED: Jonathan Barbar, Charles Clary, Edward “Butch” Simpson to to the Board of Directors of Florida Health Choices Inc.


David Christian: Florida Hospital

Charles Cliburn, New Capitol IT: M Corp

Leslie Dughi, Fred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: Associa

Michael Gallen: Manatee Chamber of Commerce

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at***


Walt Disney Co. reported a 10 percent year-over-year increase in second-quarter profit Tuesday and beat analysts’ expectations. The company reported net income of $2.1 billion on revenues of $12.5 billion.

Earnings per share jumped 14 percent to $1.23. Analysts expected the company earnings per share of $1.11 on $12.3 billion in revenue.

The parks-and-resorts division reported a 6 percent jump in revenue to $3.8 billion. Operating income increased 24 percent to $566 million.

Higher operating income at domestic operations was due to increases in guest spending and attendance at Walt Disney World, partially offset by higher costs. Sales of vacation club units at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows were up too. Disneyland Resort, however, reported lower attendance.

Higher ticket prices and increased spending on food, beverages, merchandise and hotel room rates also helped drive growth. Cost increases were due to labor and other cost inflation and higher pension and postretirement medical costs.


Today on Context FloridaPeter Schorsch suggests the reason why Gwen Graham might be biding her time before endorsing fellow Democrat Patrick Murphy, who is seeking Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat. Rumor has it that Graham awaiting at least one more court ruling on reapportionment because there might be a chance the courts could throw out the congressional maps and create an east-west seat. This district would essentially squeeze Graham out of her little slice of North Florida Way paradise. Then, the logic goes, why shouldn’t she take a shot at the U.S. Senate seat herself? Current American politics makes Martin Dyckman ask, why bother. There are symptoms of what history will likely call the terminal illness of American democracy. Testing the First Amendment’s limits has always been an important act in ensuring democratic rule in this country, says Steven Kurlander. However, this week’s killing of what now is claimed by ISIS to be two of their “Al Khilafa soldiers” who tried to attack a Prophet Muhammad Cartoon contest sponsored by Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative raises the question of whether tolerance of such ‘free speech’ have gone too far. Richard Lapchick wonders if we are playing fair when it comes to sports. The 2015 Major League Baseball Racial and Gender Report Card recently released by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport shows the league had an A on the issue of racial hiring practices, a C/C+ for gender hiring practices and an overall grade of B.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

MEI-MEI CHAN, PUBLISHER OF THE NEWS-PRESS, TO RETIRE via Casey Logan and Amy Bennett Jones of the News-Press

Mei-Mei Chan, president and publisher of Gannett Company’s The News-Press Media Group the past five years, is taking early retirement to focus on family.

The news, delivered Tuesday to a conference room packed with staffers, was met by gasps, followed by a standing ovation for Chan, 55.

“This was not an easy decision,” said Chan, calling her job one of the best in America. But after her father died in November after battling Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, Chan’s perspective shifted profoundly. “Several months after Dad’s passing, I felt I was not in the right space to do what I need to do, and so I needed to change that. And that’s very challenging, because I love this organization. I love what we do and I love the people.”

Her last day will be June 12; she and her husband, Randy, plan to stay in the area.


A South Florida woman who tweeted about being drunk minutes before a fatal wrong-way crash has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.

A Broward County judge also said 22-year-old Kayla Mendoza will remain on probation for six years after her release. Mendoza pleaded guilty in February to two DUI manslaughter charges in the November 2013 crash that killed Kaitlyn Ferrante and Marisa Catronio, both 21.

Evidence showed that Mendoza tweeted out “2 drunk 2 care” before the Sawgrass Expressway accident. Authorities later said her blood-alcohol level was almost twice Florida’s legal limit. She had been out drinking with co-workers prior to the crash.

Mendoza had faced a maximum of 30 years behind bars.

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.