Last Call for 9.6.22 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is out with his first TV ad of the election cycle, taking aim at “Big Tech” companies and the “liberals in California” who run them.

“The hottest trade on the market today is you. Big Tech is too powerful,” Patronis says in the ad. “They know where you are, they know what you’re reading, they know what you ate for lunch.”

Patronis then introduces himself as the CFO and says he wants to “stop them.”

“These tech liberals in California think they can cancel us on social media, they can sell our data to big corporations and get rich off our backs. We can stop them,” he says, calling on viewers to “tell Big Tech you’re not for sale.”

The CFO, a Republican, has often railed against tech companies such as Twitter for allegedly censoring or “shadow banning” conservative users, though he has also made overtures to lure them to the Sunshine State.

Notably, when Elon Musk announced his intention to buy Twitter, Patronis sent him a letter urging him to relocate the company to Florida. There was no formal response and Musk has since tried to back out of the deal.

Patronis has served as CFO since 2017, when he was appointed to the post by then-Gov. Rick Scott. He won election in 2018 by a comfortable 3.5% and heads into the 2022 General Election with a sizable fundraising advantage over his Democratic challenger, former state Rep. Adam Hattersley.

As of Aug. 26, the incumbent had a little over $1 million in hard money and an added $3.46 million in his political committee, Treasure Florida. Hattersley, meanwhile, has less than $5,000 banked between his two accounts despite facing no opposition in the Primary.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

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Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried sent a letter to the Department of State’s Office of Inspector General demanding an investigation into the recent voter fraud bust.

The statewide dragnet resulted in 20 arrests of convicted felons who registered to vote and cast ballots. Though voters approved an amendment allowing felons to automatically regain voting rights after completing their sentences, those convicted of murder or sex crimes were specifically excluded.

Fried and others have argued that confusion over the amendment, its implementing bill, and the lack of any mention of the carveout on voter registration forms likely led those arrested to unknowingly violate the law. Fried also noted that the Department of State had approved the voter registrations.

In the letter, addressed to Inspector General David Ulewicz, Fried says the new Office of Election Crimes and Security was overzealous in its enforcement of state election laws and that the bust was essentially a publicity stunt at the expense of those arrested.

“While under current law, these individuals were not eligible to vote, the persecution of this predominantly Black group of Floridians who broke the law without intent is not only disproportionate punishment but cruel,” she wrote.

“That cruelty is even more so as it becomes evident that what should have been investigated was how and why the state provided ineligible voters with registrations and that their traumatic arrests appear to have been done for pure publicity purposes, stoking fear and discouraging others who are eligible from exercising their rights to vote in the future.”

Evening Reads

—“‘Money talks’: Ron DeSantis goes after small-scale voter crimes, is silent on FPL and Matrix” via Mary Ellen Klas and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald

—”DeSantis targeted LGBTQ Floridians like no previous Governor. Now they’re working to defeat him.” via Zac Anderson of the USA Today Network-Florida

—“Val Demings doubles down on dismissing voters’ concerns on inflation: ‘What my opponent says are important’” via Rebecca Downs of Townhall

—“Budget panel to approve $175M in local projects” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics

—“Rick Scott amps up feud with Mitch McConnell about GOP Senate candidates” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“More than 1 in 2 Americans will have an election denier on the ballot this fall” via FiveThirtyEight

Florida company pays quick cash to list your home. The catch? A 40-year contract” via Rebecca Liebson of the Tampa Bay Times

—”Rents are starting to come down, but the trend may not hold” via Adriana Morga of The Associated Press

—“Gas prices turn back downward through Labor Day weekend” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—”Schools are back and confronting severe learning losses” via Scott Calvert of The Wall Street Journal

—“Number of students in Broward public schools declines for third straight year” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Quote of the Day

“Powerful people rigging elections is far more dangerous than 20 people allegedly voting illegally. But power gets you privileges and exceptions that don’t apply to the rest of us. Money talks. Money is power. The people who’ve been charged with voter fraud have no power. … DeSantis is making them into props for his reelection campaign and his bid for President.”

— Miami Center for Racial Justice President Marvin Dunn, on the recent voter fraud arrests.

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