Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.11.22

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Good Thursday morning.

Health care policy expert and veteran political strategist Toby Philpot joins Floridian Partners, effective Sept. 15.

Philpot comes to Floridian Partners from the Florida Health Care Association, where he has served as chief lobbyist since September 2020. Following the 2021 Legislative Session, he was named Runner-Up In-House Lobbyist of the Year by INFLUENCE Magazine for his successful stewardship of the association’s legislative agenda.

Congrats to Tony Philpot on his new gig with Floridian Partners. 

He delivered once again in the 2022 Legislative Session by leading FHCA’s efforts to secure a historic $293 million increase in Medicaid funding for nursing center care and worked to secure the passage of legislation to modernize Florida’s staffing standards.

Before joining FHCA, Philpot spent five years as Chief of Staff for the Agency for Health Care Administration. He previously served as Chief of Staff at the Florida Lottery, political director for former Senate President Mike Haridopolos, and deputy legislative affairs director for the Florida Department of Transportation.

At Floridian Partners, Philpot will focus on growing and diversifying the firm’s health care practice.

“We are excited to add Toby’s policy and political experience to our team at Floridian Partners,” said managing partner Charles Dudley. “Toby builds on our firm’s mission of providing our clients comprehensive representation before state agencies and elected officials at the executive and legislative branches.”

Firm partner Jorge Chamizo added, “Toby’s deep understanding of health care policy, political acumen and strong work ethic will serve our clients well. We are excited to welcome him to the team.”

___

Continental Strategy is continuing to expand its Florida footprint with the addition of four new hires in its Tallahassee office.

Paul Hawkes, a retired judge for Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal, joins the firm as a partner.

Hawkes was appointed to the court by former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2003 and was elected as Chief Judge by his colleagues where he led the effort to implement electronic filing — 1DCA was the first court in Florida to do so.

Continental Strategy is also bringing Tom DiGiacomo on board.

He brings to the firm over 20 years of experience working in and with state government including extensive transportation-specific industry expertise, having served as Legislative Affairs Director and Senior Policy Adviser for FDOT and Florida Turnpike, as well as Executive Director of the Florida Transportation Commission.

Ashley Spicola, an expert in Florida health care and education policy, is also heading to the firm.

After serving nine years in state government, Spicola opened her consulting business in 201. She currently serves as the Senior Relations Consultant for the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida.

Finally, Continental Strategy is welcoming Brennan Garcia, who specializes in digital policy, state procurements and governmental affairs. Garcia most recently served in the Office of the State Chief Information Officer working closely with the State CIO and State CISO on multiple wide-ranging projects, including exhaustive state technology procurements to cover a $30 million budget.

“We are thrilled to expand our team in Tallahassee. Not only does this group offer diverse experience and policy expertise, but they each have extensive knowledge of the state policy and legislative process which will be a huge asset to our clients,” said Carlos Trujillo, President of Continental Strategy.

___

Here are some other thoughts:

🐘🌊📉 — R’uh roh Republicans, it looks like the so-called “red wave” crested early. Yet another major election prognosticator — The Cook Political Report — is seeing signs that GOP success in the Midterm Elections is not guaranteed. The culprits? Bruising Primary battles, culture war issues and Donald Trump’s continued insistence that he won the 2020 Presidential Election.

💸💸💸 — Democrats are starting to get that most dangerous of feelings: Hope. But despite their improving election odds, they’re not blind to the GOP’s massive war chest and they’re bracing for a wave of cash to flow into battleground states across the nation.

📺📻💻 — Elections and ads go together like cream cheese and bagels, and that’s truer now than ever. According to AdImpact, campaign ad spending is projected to reach nearly $10 billion this cycle — an unpreceded figure for a Midterm Election. For context, ad spending hit $4 billion in the 2018 Midterms and $9 billion during the 2020 Presidential Election.

🔴🧠🔵— Big surprise: Republicans’ and Democrats’ brains are wired differently. FiveThirtyEight provided an illuminating example of how by examining how partisans think about crime and gun violence. While it’s a top issue among voters from both parties, their interpretations are wildly different.

⚡️🕵️⚡️— What does Florida Times-Union scribe Nate Monroe think about being tailed by private eyes? In an interview with fellow veteran reporter Jim Rosica, he answered that question and spoke about other aspects of his media career. Check it out on City & State.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@JRubinBlogger: You know what’s never happened? A former President pleading the 5th. THIS is the cult leader R’s pine for. Okey-dokey.

@ParkerMolloy: The FBI went to Mar-a-Lago, knocked on the door to collect boxes of classified material that Trump stole from the White House, and major news outlets all just decided to go with the term Trump used for it: raid. “Raid” makes it sound like they were breaking down doors and shit.

@Nate_Cohn: The GOP holds MN-1 in last night’s special election, but only by a modest 4-point margin (Trump+10 district; R+3 in last House race) The signs of a Democratic rebound post-Dobbs are starting to pile up … Democrats have also trended upward on the generic congressional ballot, where they’ve reached parity with the GOP No way to know if it lasts until November, but the focus on abortion/Jan. 6 hasn’t ebbed — yet. At the same time, the news on inflation has improved for D’s … There are still some good data points for the GOP. (Joe) Biden’s approval rating is one of them. It’s entirely consistent with a ‘wave’ election. It’s not hard to explain why Democrats would be defying gravity right now, but gravity is a pretty stubborn force

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@AndrewMoss_FL: If someone’s campaign mailer has the words “deadly serious;” it most likely means it’s the very non-serious.

@FrankPallotta: Disney’s strong third quarter wasn’t just on the back of Disney+. The company’s parks, experiences and products unit had a very strong quarter bringing in revenues of $7.3 billion, which was up a whopping 70% over the same quarter last year.

@AGlorios: A little sad today. Didn’t expect Olivia Newton-John’s death to affect me as much as it has. Life is so fleeting. Getting up close to that is so harrowing. It overwhelms me.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Early voting begins for Primaries — 2; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 6; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 7; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 10; 2022 Florida Primary — 11; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 17; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 20; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 20; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 22; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 28; 2022 Emmys — 32; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 35; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 35; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 56; deadline to register for General Election — 60; 22-23 NHL season begins — 61; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 75; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 75; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 76; Early voting begins for General Election — 80; 2022 General Election — 89; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 92; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 92; FITCon 2022 begins — 98; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 98; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 102; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 102; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 103; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 111; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 111; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 127; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 190; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 208; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 225; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 250; 2023 Session Sine Die — 267; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 267; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 295; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 344; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 449; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 463; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 596; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 715; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 715; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 820; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 995.

— TOP STORY —

Ron DeSantis, unconstrained by constitutional checks, is flexing his power in Florida ahead of 2024 decision” via Steve Contorno of CNN — When DeSantis abruptly suspended Tampa’s elected prosecutor last week, it was not accomplished in a late-night sacking or buried in a 5 p.m. Friday news release. Instead, DeSantis summoned reporters and cameras for a midday media event, as he does several times a week, stood before officers in uniform and elected allies and matter-of-factly walked through his decision to kneecap a twice-elected Democratic official.

The ruthless display of raw political power in removing Hillsborough County state attorney Andrew Warren, however brazen and unprecedented, was merely the latest example of a new reality in Florida: DeSantis is governing unconstrained by the traditional checks on executive authority. In the last eight months, DeSantis orchestrated a new law to exact revenge on Disney amid a political feud with the entertainment giant, bulldozed an aggressively partisan redrawing of congressional boundaries through the state Legislature and pushed nearly every facet of state government to the front lines of the culture wars. And he has done it all with limited dissent from the Republicans who control the other branches of government in Florida.

Unshackled from the Constitution, some worry about a dark side to Ron DeSantis’ re-election.

As he seeks a second term, the full weight of this amassed power is also beginning to crystallize. If re-elected — and with a nine-figure fundraising advantage, the odds are heavily in his favor – there appears to be little to stop him from pushing through an agenda that would further transform Florida for an audience of future GOP Primary voters.

“DeSantis has a blank check,” said Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University. “There is no part of the Constitution now that is protecting democracy because the checks and balances on him have been completely eviscerated. If he wins, he’ll spin it as a mandate and say, ‘If Floridians didn’t like any of what I did, they would’ve voted me out.’ “

— 2022 —

Firearms banned at events with DeSantis, who has argued ‘gun-free’ zones are less safe” via Charles R. Davis of Business Insider — Mass shooters are “really, really bad people,” DeSantis said at a June news conference. But, he continued, they are “not dumb.” “The Buffalo guy said he wanted to go where he knew there wouldn’t be blowback from people being armed, and so he tried to find a gun-free zone,” DeSantis said. But at rallies set to take place this month in Arizona, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, featuring DeSantis as the star speaker, firearms will be strictly prohibited and not by liberals. Attendees should be prepared for “airport-like screening.”

Ron DeSantis rallies will be gun-free zones.

JB Pritzker uses ‘terrible’ DeSantis as foil in national campaign on abortion rights” via Shia Kapos of POLITICO — The fall of Roe v. Wade is giving Illinois Gov. Pritzker a new resolve to wield his immense bank account against his fellow Governors and make his mark on abortion rights outside his state. A wealthy heir to the Hyatt hotel empire, Pritzker has already cut $250,000 checks this election cycle to boost Democratic gubernatorial campaigns and parties across the Midwest, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan. Perhaps the biggest target on his list is DeSantis. For Pritzker, who is up for re-election this fall and is viewed as a potential future presidential candidate himself, it’s another chance to build his political profile outside of his state and set himself up as a bulwark against some of the Democratic base’s least favorite Republicans.

Charlie Crist blames DeSantis for Escambia school Black hero controversy” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Crist is blaming DeSantis for the treatment of a Pensacola-area teacher who walked out after a district employee removed pictures of historic Black “heroes” from his classroom walls. “This is the sad reality of Ron DeSantis’ Florida — a teacher, in a predominantly Black community, comes into their classroom to see posters of historically Black American heroes, including President (Barack) Obama, taken down for being ‘inappropriate,’ Crist said in a statement. “Florida deserves a Governor that gives students the freedom to learn and educators the freedom to teach.”

American Federation of Teachers gives Crist a $500K boost” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Crist’s bid to retake the Governor’s Mansion this year is getting a big funding infusion from the American Federation of Teachers. AFT, which boasts more than 1.7 million across 3,000 local affiliates nationwide, is donating $500,000 to help him win the upcoming Democratic Primary and then defeat DeSantis in November. That’s the biggest check Crist’s campaign accepted this election cycle. It follows $50,000 worth of contributions since June from the Florida Education Association, which has endorsed Crist along with United Teachers of Dade, Democratic Public Education Caucus of Florida and other such unions throughout the state.

Top Dem pols headline Crist’s Miami-Dade get-out-the-vote committee” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The biggest Democratic names in Miami-Dade County are part of Crist’s committee he’s leaning on to turn out the votes to propel him into the Governor’s Mansion. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Miami Senator and congressional candidate Annette Taddeo, and Miami Sens. Shevrin Jones and Jason Pizzo are among the slew of leaders Crist has charged with getting out the Miami-Dade County voters for him. First, they’ll be working for his Aug. 23 Primary victory against Nikki Fried, and then again for November’s election, presumably when he’ll be facing DeSantis in the General Election.

Assignment editors — Crist will take part in the following events as early voting starts throughout the state: 5:15 p.m., Gilchrist County Democrats meet and greet; 7:30 p.m., League of Cities Reception, Hallandale Beach. Location and Zoom link upon RSVP at [email protected].

Nikki Fried campaign touts poll showing her within 7 points of Crist” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — A new survey of the Florida Democratic Primary race for Governor shows U.S. Rep. Crist ahead of Fried 42% to 35%. But Fried’s campaign is promoting the poll as evidence of Crist’s inability to “break through” in the contest. The poll, commissioned by the Fried campaign, shows 23% of Democratic Primary voters were “not sure” who they would support, with two weeks until Election Day and mail ballots already sent out. Fried’s campaign released a memo saying the results show her gaining ground on Crist, as compared to a poll from April, and asserting she “is poised to pull even with Crist by this weekend.”

ICYMI — To watch Fried’s latest attack ad, please click on the image below:

Fried launches statewide ads targeting Hispanic voters — Fried’s gubernatorial campaign is running print and radio advertisements in Hispanic media outlets in the final stretch of her Democratic Primary campaign against Crist. The Spanish-language print ads will appear in local papers across the state and include a QR code where voters can find their early and Election Day voting locations. The radio ads, which will run in South Florida, Orlando and Tampa, feature recognized advocates and opinion leaders from a variety of Hispanic and Caribbean backgrounds detailing why they are voting for Fried in the Primary. Participants include Maria Eugenia Arbelaez, Luis Atencio, Dr. Leonarda Duran, Millie Herrera, Tinidad “Triny” Mancisidor, Nancy Rosado and Teodoro “Ted” Miguel Victor.

Ag Commish blowup breaks temporary campaign alliance between Democrats” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — For two months, J.R. Gaillot and Ryan Morales were aligned together against the endorsement- and money-leader in the race for the Democratic Agriculture Commissioner nomination. Now with two weeks till Election Day and a scandal that turned the Democratic establishment against that front-runner, the temporary alliance between Gaillot and Morales has disintegrated as they each aim to secure the nomination. Early indications show support coalescing around Morales, a cannabis activist who lost the 2020 Democratic Primary for Florida House District 32 by 3 points.

— 2022: CONG —

Matt Gaetz hosting ‘Hold Biden Accountable Tour’ — Gaetz and fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan are holding an event in Pensacola on Saturday as part of their “Hold Biden Accountable Tour.” The event is free and open to the public and local news media. The event will be held at Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Resource Center, 913 South I Street, starting at noon Central time. The event is open to the public. More details and registration information are available online.

Rebekah Jones files appeal in disqualification from Democratic Primary” via Jim Little of The Pensacola News Journal — Jones is appealing her disqualification from the Democratic Primary for the 1st Congressional District. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper disqualified Jones in the race after a hearing Friday, ruling Jones had not been a registered member of the Democratic Party for a full year as required under Florida law. Jones filed her notice of appeal with the 1st District Court of Appeal late Monday night. The filing was a notice to the court starting the appeals process but contained no legal arguments.

Happening tonight:

Save the date:

Open Congressional District 15 seat draws 5 ambitious Democrats” via Sara-Megan Walsh of The Lakeland Ledger — It’s a crowded field in the Democratic Primary for Florida’s newly drawn U.S. Congressional District 15. The open seat has captured the attention of five political hopefuls. Journalist Alan Cohn returns, having previously campaigned for the seat in 2020. He lost to Republican Scott Franklin, who now lives in District 18. Cohn is competing against political consultant Gavin Brown, video producer Eddie Geller, financial banker Cesar Ramirez and retired U.S. Postal worker Bill VanHorn.

— 2022: LEG. —

Familiar faces Jim Boyd, John Houman rematch in SD 20 Primary” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The universal Primary for SD 20 features incumbent Republican Boyd against challenger Houman in a rematch of the 2020 Primary for then-District 21. At that time, Boyd received roughly 90% of the votes cast in the district, which includes Manatee County and the southern portion of Hillsborough County. Since there are no Democratic or non-party affiliation candidates, all voters will be allowed to weigh in on the Aug. 23 universal Primary. Because of this year’s redrawing of state legislative district boundaries based on the most recent U.S. Census, Boyd won a two-year term in 2020 but this year, the seat will again carry with it a four-year term.

Jayer Williamson backs Joel Rudman in HD 3 race” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Outgoing state Rep. Williamson is endorsing Dr. Rudman to succeed him in House District 3. “I believe Dr. Rudman is the right Republican to represent us in the state Capitol,” Williamson said. “Rep. Williamson is well-respected and accomplished a lot in a short period of time for us,” Rudman said. Going into the last few weeks, Rudman’s campaign account has $93,224 and his affiliated political committee holds $128,194.

Joel Rudman gets another solid endorsement.

Write-in candidates close three state House races in Duval County to just one party’s voters” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Half the state House of Representative races in Duval County will be decided solely by voters from one party this year because write-in candidates qualified for those contests, locking out thousands of other voters from having a voice in who will represent them in Tallahassee. The write-in candidates in those three House contests don’t actually live in the districts and cannot vote themselves in those races. But because of state election law, they prevent many residents who live in the districts from casting votes in those House races.

Lawsuit filed in HD 45 race, another threatened, in mailers ruckus” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The fiance of House District 45 Republican Carolina Amesty sued one of her Republican opponents, his consultants and an outside political committee, charging that campaign mailers have violated his rights. Jesus “Jay” Rosario, an Orange County businessman and reserve deputy sheriff in Orange County, filed the suit against Republican Bruno Portigliatti; his political consulting firm SimWins and its principles. The suit is just the latest shot in an increasingly hostile Republican battle for the HD 45 in the Orlando area. Republican voters there have been flooded with ugly attack ads, mostly mailers coming from independent political committees without clear ties to any specific campaigns.

Donald Trump Jr. endorses Carolina Amesty in HD 45” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Trump Jr. is endorsing Carolina Amesty in the hard-fought Republican Primary Election for House District 45 in the Walt Disney World area. Amesty’s campaign said he also has pledged to headline an upcoming fundraiser for her. “I’m proud to support an America First warrior like Carolina,” Trump said in a news release issued by Amesty’s campaign. “We need more young conservatives with a backbone, who are willing to step into the political arena to defend our precious liberties from the radical left.” Trump, the former President’s eldest son, provides the highest-profile endorsement yet in a field marked by big spending and nasty attacks among several of the five Republican candidates battling for the open seat representing the Disney region.

Rene Flowers endorses Michele Rayner, a jab at former opponent Wengay Newton” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Flowers is backing Rep. Rayner in her run for House District 62, a slight jab to Flowers’ former opponent, Newton, who faces Rayner in the upcoming Democratic Primary. Flowers was first elected to the Pinellas County Commission in 2020, a race where she bested Newton with 52% of the vote to his 33%. Flowers was re-elected to the Commission without opposition in June. Before working on the Commission, Flowers was a Pinellas County School Board member. In announcing her support for Rayner, Flowers slammed the Legislature’s GOP leadership, perhaps to point out Newton’s ties to former Republican colleagues.

Michele Rayner gets back up from someone who knows her opponent well.

Mike Caruso faces ‘ultra MAGA’ challenge in HD 87 Primary” via Wayne Washington of The Palm Beach Post — Caruso and real estate agent Jane Justice – are competing in the GOP Primary for the right to face unopposed Democrat Sienna Osta in HD 87. Caruso had represented the HD 89 since 2018. But redistricting shrank HD 89 and moved it west, away from the coastal Palm Beach County strip Caruso represented. Now that strip will be the new District 87. And Caruso wants to continue to represent the residents. A self-described “ultra-MAGA” Republican, Justice has made an issue of the fact that the Republican Party of Palm Beach County’s Executive Committee censured Caruso after the lawmaker endorsed a Democrat in her race for a House seat.

EMILY’s List backs 21 Florida legislative candidates” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — EMILY’s List, a national political action committee supporting Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights, is revealing its endorsement of 21 legislative candidates in Florida. “The anti-choice extremist Republican majority in the state Legislature continues to vote to push abortion out of reach for Floridians, and they will not stop until no one can access necessary reproductive health care,” EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler said. Most of the candidates snagging an endorsement are incumbents or Democrats without opposition in the Primary, but a handful of endorsements land in what could be fierce intraparty races.

— 2022: D-BALLOT —

California group, with Bernie Sanders ties, sends $50,000 to aid Tallahassee’s progressive candidates” via Steve Stewart of Tallahassee Reports — State campaign records show that a progressive group based in California is financing the efforts of campaign operative Max Herrle to influence Tallahassee City Commission elections. Herrle is a former local lobbyist who has close ties with City Commissioner Jack Porter and Jeremy Matlow. He also provided campaign consulting to current Leon County Commissioner Brian Welch, who upset Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge in the 2020 election cycle.

Max Herrle gets West Coast muscle.

Far-right forces descend on a race for Duval County School Board” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — In January, April Carney put out a call for help on a private Facebook group of like-minded conservative Jacksonville mothers: she needed “proof of (critical race theory) or pro-transgender teaching at your” Duval County school. Months later Carney did in fact announce her candidacy for the Duval County School Board, challenging the re-election campaign of Elizabeth Andersen. School board races are officially nonpartisan, and Carney’s campaign material gestures at a desire for school officials to “stop playing politics.” Yet her campaign is slathered with images of her posing with far-right politicians and a recent appearance she made on Fox News.

A tax referendum on a crime-fighting tool — education and teachers” via Mark Woods of The Florida Times-Union — A longtime local teacher who has seen many colleagues come and go recently shared a viral social media post that started far from Duval County but certainly hit home. “There is no ‘teacher shortage,’ it said. “There are thousands of qualified, experienced teachers who are no longer teaching. There’s a shortage of respect and proper compensation for teachers …” This is especially true in Florida; a state that ranks 45th in the nation for teachers, including 44th for compensation and 48th for work environment.

Orange County voters to consider rent control measure on November ballot” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange County voters will have a ballot measure in November asking them whether they want to enact a one-year cap on rent increases. The measure, championed by Commissioner Emily Bonilla, was approved 4-3 after another four hours of emotional testimony, discussion and debate Tuesday, following an even longer forum on the question two weeks ago. The measure heading to the countywide ballot would ask voters to set a rent percentage increase cap tied to the federal Consumer Price Index, for 12 months.

Seminole School Board candidate sues to keep a competitor off ballot” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — One candidate in the upcoming election for the Seminole County School Board has sued another, alleging the competitor does not live in the district in which she is running, as state law requires. Dana Fernandez filed the lawsuit against Autumn Garick attacking her “illegal qualification” as a candidate for the District 5 seat on the Board. Garick called the case “frivolous” and “baseless,” noting that she and her husband are building a house in downtown Sanford, which is in District 5, and that she is also renting a home in that district because the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed completion of the under-construction house.

— STATEWIDE —

A coalition of abortion rights groups seek Supreme Court review of 15-week ban — Planned Parenthood, The American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed notice with the Court Wednesday to review the decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal on the ban “The decision is within the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction because it expressly and directly conflicts with a decision of the Supreme Court on the same question of law,” ACLU of Florida lawyer Daniel Tilley wrote in the filing, first reported by Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO. Plaintiffs argue that the law — which criminalizes essential health care and threatens to imprison doctors for providing care to patients — violates the right-to-privacy provision in the Florida constitution. Lawmakers approved the ban in March, and DeSantis signed it into law in April.

Florida wants to deny Medicaid coverage on gender-affirming care for trans patients of all ages” via Orion Rummler of 19th — The agency responsible for overseeing Florida’s Medicaid program announced last week that it plans to end Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming care, like hormone treatment and puberty blockers, for patients of all ages. If enacted, Florida would join 10 other states that explicitly exclude transgender health coverage under Medicaid, per the Movement Advancement Project, which tracks LGBTQ+ policies nationally. Florida previously did not have an explicit policy regulating trans health coverage under Medicaid.

Economists agree deficit in state health insurance trust fund is bigger than previously thought” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — With fewer state employees enrolled in the plan and increasing costs, economists agree that the projected deficit in the trust fund that covers the costs of the state group health insurance program is twice as large as previously projected. Members of the State Employees’ Health Insurance Estimating Conference tentatively agreed that the state employee health insurance trust fund could have as high as a $170.3 million deficit by June 2024. That’s more than double the $61.8 million deficit economists had predicted in December 2021 when they last met.

Florida will delay second shots of monkeypox vaccine to offer more first doses” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — With more than 1,000 cases of monkeypox in the state, Florida health officials are postponing second doses to offer more first-time shots of the Jynneos vaccine. “The Department of Health is using all available doses as first doses only. Second doses will be rescheduled once the federal government has increased vaccine supply,” said Nina Levine, a representative for the Department of Health, Broward. The Jynneos vaccine is approved as a two-dose regimen for monkeypox, given out 28 days apart. More than 30,000 people in Florida at risk of infection have received their first dose.

Holding second doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine so there are enough for the first doses.

State cops get raises but no $1,000 bonuses this year” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — State police, including those who protect the Governor, aren’t getting a $1,000 bonus that DeSantis has been promoting around the state to make sure Florida retains what he has called “the best law enforcement officers in the nation.” State officers are receiving their first pay bump in years that will result in double-digit increases for most. Even so, thousands of highway patrol officers, Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents, wildlife officers and correctional officers want to know why they have been excluded from the second round of federally funded first-responder bonuses they got last year.

‘Don’t Say Gay’ law fuels anti-LGBTQ hate online” via The Associated Press — Research that analyzed social media posts finds that hateful references to gays, lesbians and other LGBTQ people surged online after Florida passed a law that bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. References to pedophiles and “grooming” rose by more than 400% in the month after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” measure was approved. The researchers who compiled the report found that the 500 most-viewed tweets that mentioned “grooming” were viewed more than 72 million times between January and July.

Staff allegedly took down an Escambia County teacher’s posters of Black heroes. He quit” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — An Escambia County public schoolteacher resigned this week over what he characterized as racist behavior by a school district employee. The teacher, Michael James, emailed a letter to DeSantis and Escambia County Superintendent Tim Smith in which he wrote that a district employee removed pictures of historic Black American heroes from his classroom walls, citing the images as being “age-inappropriate.” “It really floored me,” James said. “I’ve been teaching special education for 15 years, and it just really floored me when she did that.”

3 men arrested, accused in elaborate statewide retail theft ring in 14 counties” via J.D. Gallop of Florida Today — Three men, who Florida prosecutors said carried out an elaborate statewide retail theft ring, targeted big-name stores across Central and South Florida then sold the stolen goods through an online marketplace. Thousands of dollars in merchandise were taken from stores including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, and Walmart, going back to September 2020, law enforcement agencies reported. Prosecutors said in a lone instance, $5,499 in goods were taken from a Martin County Dick’s Sporting Goods store in one day.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul jokes about Jews fleeing to Florida, pokes at Ron DeSantis during Holocaust event” via Zach Williams of the New York Post —Hochul sounded like a bad Borscht Belt comedian at a bill signing tied to Holocaust education in schools as she tried to land a joke at Florida Gov. DeSantis’ expense. “I just want to say to the 1.77 million Jews who call New York home: Thank you for calling New York home. Don’t go anywhere or to another state. Florida is overrated. I shouldn’t say this, but look at the governor. It starts at the top down,” Hochul cracked.

Abortion rights groups ask Florida Supreme Court to take up abortion law challenge” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO — A consortium of abortion-rights groups who are suing the state over the ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy has asked the state Supreme Court take up the case, saying the courts have ignored them. Planned Parenthood, The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights, filed a notice asking the state’s highest court to review a July decision handed down by the 1st District Court of Appeal that left the lawsuit in flux. ACLU staff attorney Whitney White wrote in a statement that the state’s courts have left them without any options but the Supreme Court.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Marco Rubio says FBI sowing more discord than Russia after Donald Trump raid” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Rubio charged that when it comes to eroding public trust, the federal law enforcement arm is even worse than one of America’s biggest geopolitical rivals. “The FBI’s actions, less than three months from the upcoming elections, are doing more to erode public trust in our government institutions, the electoral process, and the rule of law in the U.S. than the Russian Federation or any other foreign adversary,” Rubio wrote. “These values represent the very core of what the United States stands for and what the FBI is mandated to protect. Yet the FBI raid sows the same division — and exacerbates the same loss of confidence in the U.S. political process — that adversaries like Vladimir Putin go to great lengths to foment.”

Image via Reuters.

Rubio warns feds view Republicans as ‘potential insurrectionists’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “The next step in this process is going to be that people who are supporters of Donald Trump or just conservatives complaining about this are going to begin to get harassed, are going to begin to get labeled as potential insurrectionists and are going to begin to get harassed by law enforcement. That’s the next step in this playbook, sadly,” Rubio said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program. “They want Donald Trump arrested. They want him charged right now. They wanted him charged months ago, years ago. They wanted him charged, and I’m telling you the next thing you’re going to see here, Sean, because it’s the playbook. And that is, they will begin to say, ‘Oh, these Trump supporters, these Republicans, they’re very upset. They’re saying very angry things. We think they might be a threat and we think they might be radical extremists. Let’s start arresting them,” Rubio contended.

Republicans who blast FBI’s Trump search are prepping to snag Joe Biden in a Hunter Biden probe” via Jordain Carney of POLITICO — As House Republicans rush to argue that politics mar the FBI search of Trump’s home, they are readying a future Hunter Biden investigation designed to ensnare Joe Biden ahead of a potential re-election bid. House Republicans see no contradiction between their suspicion of the FBI’s law enforcement activity at Mar-a-Lago and their interest in digging into the business dealings of the President’s son and other family members.

— JAN. 6 —

Alex Jones’ texts with some of Trump’s closest allies just got turned over to the Jan. 6 committee” via Charlotte Klein of Vanity Fair — As Jones was being questioned in court for spreading lies about the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, the trial took a turn: attorney Mark Bankston, who is representing the victims’ parents, revealed that Jones’s legal team had accidentally sent Bankston a digital copy of his entire cellphone. On Monday, days after Jones was ordered to pay nearly $50 million to the victims in both compensatory and punitive damages, Bankston turned over the InfoWars founder’s text messages to the Jan. 6 committee.

Are Alex Jones’ text messages a proverbial smoking gun for Jan. 6? Image via The Associated Press.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Eric Trump tells DailyMail.com what REALLY happened in FBI raid” via Katelyn Caralle of The Daily Mail — Trump revealed FBI agents refused to hand over the search warrant for their raid on Mar-a-Lago and kicked an attorney off the property in a new, incisive account of the Monday operation at the Florida estate. Trump’s son said the 30 agents who arrived at the property asked staff to turn security cameras off — but they refused. He also noted that the attorney was forced to stand at the end of the Mar-a-Lago driveway while the team searched inside — and allegedly used safe crackers to break into his father’s safe. ‘They would not give her the search warrant,’ he claimed. ‘So, they showed it to her from about 10 feet away. They would not give her a copy of the search warrant.’

Merrick Garland becomes Trump’s target after FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search” via Katie Benner and Glenn Thrush of The New York Times — The F.B.I. had scarcely decamped from Mar-a-Lago when Trump’s allies, led by Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, began a bombardment of vitriol and threats against the man they see as a foe and foil: Attorney General Garland. Garland, a bookish former judge who during his unsuccessful Supreme Court nomination in 2016 told Senators that he did not have “a political bone” in his body, responded, as he so often does, by not responding.

Merrick Garland faces a fusillade from Donald Trump acolytes.

What is really unprecedented is the criminality Republican outrage to the raid on Trump is telling.” via Jonathan Chait of New York magazine — In response to the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, as is often the case, the revealing statements in the Republican Party come not from the fringe actors calling for civil war or defunding the FBI but the respectable statesmen in the mainstream. “No former President of the United States has ever been subject to a raid of their personal residence in American history,” complains Mike Pence on Twitter. While it is true that there is no history of a former American President being raided by the Feds, these observations implicitly treat the FBI’s behavior as the source of the historic break. Trump is the first former President to be treated like a criminal because he is the first former President who is a criminal.

Latest Lincoln Project ad stokes presidential paranoia, suggests snitch sparked Mar-a-Lago raid” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Trolling Trump, a new Lincoln Project ad raises questions about who from his inner circle snitched. The ad will be broadcast in the Bedminster, New Jersey market, where Trump stayed as FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago estate. It shows pictures featured in a new book on Trump by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman. The photographs show clumps of papers with handwritten notes reportedly flushed down a toilet. The images seem to confirm reports from February that Trump frequently would stuff sensitive documents in White House toilets to dispose of them.

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

House Oversight Republicans are demanding a briefing on the National Archives role in the FBI search of Trump’s estate.” via Nancy Vu of POLITICO — Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are requesting an immediate briefing looking into the National Archives and Records Administration’s role in urging the FBI to execute a search warrant into Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Ranking member James Comer and 19 other Republican members are demanding answers “about the FBI and NARA’s investigation of President Trump and any coordination between the two agencies.” The GOP members are also requesting the acquisition and preservation of documents related to the warrant, with the papers being sent to the committee no later than Aug. 24.

GOP leaders call Mar-a-Lago search a ‘Third-World’ act. Miami exiles debate it” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — In blasting the unprecedented FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, Florida Republican leaders revived a familiar theme: The targeting of a former President and political foe is something that could only happen in a “Third-World country.” DeSantis, a rising star in the national Republican Party, said the scene was akin to one in a “banana republic,” a pejorative term historically used for some politically unstable countries in the Americas. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott said the raid was “3rd World country stuff.” U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar tweeted she was concerned about the U.S. going “down the path of countries like Cuba & Nicaragua.”

—“Why Trump loyalists are rallying against Fed raid at Mar-a-Lago” via Wilkine Brutus of WFLA

Far-right extremists are violently threatening the Trump search-warrant Judge” via David Gilbert of Vice — Far-right extremists on pro-Trump message boards and social networks are making violent, antisemitic threats against the judge who reportedly signed the warrant. Multiple members of these toxic online communities are even posting what appears to be Judge Bruce Reinhart’s home address, phone numbers, and names of his family members alongside threats of extreme violence. “This is the piece of shit judge who approved FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago,” a user wrote on the pro-Trump message board formerly known as TheDonald. “I see a rope around his neck.”

—“Judge who signed Mar-a-Lago warrant took himself off Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, Democrats” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

If Trump illegally removed official records, would he be barred from future office?” via Charlie Savage of The New York Times — The F.B.I. search of Trump’s residence in Florida has raised the question of whether the criminal investigation could lead to legally blocking him from becoming President again, even if he decides to run in the 2024 election. Any conviction under one particular criminal law that appears to relate to the investigation includes an unusual penalty: disqualification from holding any federal office. But there is a reason for caution before concluding that if Trump were to be charged and convicted under that law, he could not legally return to the White House even if voters wanted him to.

Trump says he took the Fifth in New York civil investigation” via Michael Balsamo, Michael R. Sisak, Michelle L. Price of The Associated Press — About an hour after arriving at Attorney General Letitia James’ Manhattan offices, Trump announced that he “declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.” “I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” the statement said. After leaving around 3:30 p.m., he described the encounter as “very professional” and added a plug for his “fantastic” company.

Trump allies are attacking Biden for a plan to hire 87,000 new IRS agents that doesn’t exist” via Eric Cortellessa of Time — Republican members of Congress and right-wing media figures have launched a new line of attack against Democrats: that the IRS intends to use nearly $80 billion in new funding to pursue similar intrusions on average Americans. Those dollars, Trump allies are saying, will go toward the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents. “Do you make $75,000 or less?” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you — with 710,000 new audits for Americans who earn less than $75K.”

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami mayor eyes White House” via Lachlan Markay of Axios — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s political operation is making subtle but significant moves toward a potential White House run. A Presidential bid by Suarez would test his party’s acceptance of internal dissent: he’s publicly criticized both Trump and DeSantis, considered the two clear favorites for the 2024 nomination. Suarez is nonetheless considered a rising political star who’s overseen the ascendance of one of America’s fastest-growing and most dynamic cities.

Miami-Dade County Commission sued over Sheriff ‘power grab’” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — In a complaint filed Wednesday with the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, the Florida Sheriff’s Association asserts that the county is in clear breach of a constitutional amendment a supermajority of Florida voters, as well as 63.2% of voters in Miami-Dade, approved in 2018. The amendment requires every Florida county in 2024 to elect a Sheriff and four other local officers. Miami-Dade is the only county in the state not to have an elected Sheriff. Instead, Miami-Dade Mayor Cava serves as the county’s de facto Sheriff. In June, the Miami-Dade Commission voted 9-4 for a resolution by Chair Jose “Pepe” Diaz to allow the existing police force and future Sheriff’s Office to coexist.

Daniella Levine Cava is Miami-Dade’s de facto Sheriff.

Secret laundry list of hurdles facing the EAA reservoir: Part 1” via The Backstory Blog — What started as three federal lawsuits brought by Florida’s sugar growers against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over an arcane covenant known as the “savings clause” has morphed into an epic battle, pitting growers of virtually every crop in the Sunshine State against the federal agency tasked with restoring the Everglades. Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation, said the lawsuits were “an attempt to distract.” Col. Andrew Kelly, the U.S. Army Corps Jacksonville Commander at the time, didn’t seem too worried about the lawsuits, either.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Hate fliers return to St. Pete; how will the city respond?” via Mark Parker of St. Pete Catalyst — Last week, concerned St. Petersburg residents reported receiving antisemitic fliers on their doorsteps. The notes began by condemning progressives for promoting communism, and conservatives for only worrying about money, before launching into vitriol aimed at Jewish people and their allies. They featured Nazi symbolism and promoted replacement theory, the White nationalist ideology that has inspired several mass shootings. A QR code at the bottom linked to an antisemitic film. Still, Florida Holocaust Museum Chair Mike Igel remains passionately optimistic. “I think it’s less about whether it’s going to be here because it just is,” said Igel. “The core question for all of us is — what are we going to do about it because it is here?”

Antisemitic flyers are now turning up in St. Pete. What happens next?

Family alleges Orlando charter school abused student with autism” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — The family of a boy on the autism spectrum is suing Access Charter School, a school for kids with cognitive and social disorders in Orlando, alleging staff repeatedly abused and restrained the student. “He got to the point where he was scared to go to school. He tried to run away,” his mom said at a news conference on Wednesday. “He was petrified.” In the complaint, the boy, a minor, is referred to as DC and his mother as SC. They’re demanding a jury trial and seeking monetary compensation for DC’s medical and psychological treatment, as well as for the emotional and physical toll of the alleged abuse.

Hallelujah, Hula Bowl is back in Orlando — maybe permanently” via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — Break out the celebratory leis and crank up some Don Ho singing “Tiny Bubbles” because the Hula Bowl not only is coming back to Orlando for a second consecutive year in January, it likely is moving here permanently. A source close to the storied college football all-star game said if this year’s Hula Bowl goes well, organizers are eager to move the game to the City Beautiful on a permanent basis. This year’s game will be played Saturday, Jan. 14, at FBC Mortgage Stadium on UCF’s campus with a noon kickoff.

Citrus County in bind with road builder over repaving contract” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Citrus County Commissioners say they are committed to an aggressive road-resurfacing program. Yet they’re hamstrung by market conditions, and so reluctantly gave a contractor a second 60-day extension on a $4.7 million contract. Even with the extension, Commissioners have little hope that Pave-Rite Inc. will finish the job, as it has completed just 7% of the work. But they’re hoping an extension will help move things along. “We need to give them the opportunity to right the ship,” Commissioner Jeff Kinnard said.

Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott pressured to ‘fix’ and publish voter registration rolls” via Ralph Chapoco of Florida Today — Simmering behind the scenes, the national battle over election integrity pushed by false claims of widespread voter fraud in 2020 has made it to Brevard County. On one side is Scott, Brevard’s Supervisor of Elections, who is forced to confront claims of election irregularities by those bent on proving Trump’s narrative that he is the rightful winner of the 2020 race that elevated Biden to the presidency. On the other side is Defend Florida, a grassroots organization pushing the stolen presidential claims while fighting Scott over tens of thousands of Brevard voters who it says are ineligible to vote.

— MORE LOCAL: N. FLORIDA —

Riverkeeper, Sierra Club tell JEA to address Northside plant pollution” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — The pressure is on JEA to do something about the high use of fossil fuels and the utility’s fuel mix in the future, and the Northside Generating Station is once again at the center of the debate. Advocates brought their concerns and suggestions to the JEA board of directors at their recent meeting. “Jacksonville must take responsible steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of sea-level rise and a warming planet,” St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman said.

— TOP OPINION —

Yearning for a banana republic” via Jonah Goldberg of The Dispatch — Here’s an easy thought experiment. Imagine a Third World banana republic. A populist leader recently ousted in an allegedly “rigged” election is waiting in the wings, plotting a return to power. The current ruler sends armed agents of the state to search the ousted ruler’s home in the hope of discrediting his once and possibly future opponent, presumably to prevent him from ever threatening his rule.

What happens next? The ousted ruler and his representatives claim that this affront to his dignity is really an insult to all his supporters. Like followers of Hugo Chávez or Daniel Ortega, they insist that only by returning their leader in internal exile to power can they avenge this travesty and purge the government of these enemies of the people.

This isn’t an argument against banana republic politics, it is banana republic politics. Let’s put aside any consideration of primaries or policy debates and simply anoint a strong man to redeem our nation, purge corruption, and punish our enemies.

I’ll put it plainly: If your “belief” in our country is so fragile and pathetic that you will lose “hope for our nation” unless Trump is given free rein to cleanse the land of evildoers, then you don’t actually believe in this nation.

— OPINIONS —

When America joined the cult of the Confederacy” via Brent Staples of The New York Times — President Woodrow Wilson transformed government into an engine of White supremacy when he took office in 1913. His administration segregated a federal workforce that had been integrated for 50 years and imposed separate White and “colored” bathrooms in federal buildings. The Wilsonians paid homage to the icons of White supremacy when they named military bases for Confederate traitors who had waged war on this country with the aim of keeping Black people in chains. Congress broke with the myth of the noble Confederates last year, when it voted to expunge from Defense Department assets “names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia” that commemorate the Confederacy.

Trump will release the warrant” via David French of The Atlantic — When it’s good for Trump, and not before. With very few exceptions, the GOP has coalesced around Trump and expressed the fierce conviction that the Department of Justice’s decision to serve a search warrant was a grotesque abuse of power. This conclusion has a notable problem: The American public still hasn’t seen the search warrant. Trump’s lawyers have it, and they’ve described it in vague terms, but they have not released it. One of his attorneys, Christina Bobb, said that the warrant sought “classified documents, evidence of a crime as far as classified documents go,” and “presidential records.” The term classified documents encompass a wide range of material, from relatively benign documents to documents that, if released into the wrong hands, could inflict real damage to the United States national security.

Joe Henderson: Rick Scott and Rubio should spare us their outrage” via Florida Politics — Mind you, the raid wouldn’t have been necessary if Trump had obeyed the law. For security reasons, he couldn’t take classified documents to his palatial estate after he left office, but the National Archives and Records Administration believes he did so anyway. So, the FBI came to take them back. What part of that is confusing? Scott, whose sense of hyperbole is finely tuned, likened the raid to Nazi Germany. “The way our federal government has gone, it’s like what we have thought about the Gestapo and people like that, that they just go after people. What we thought about the Soviet Union,” he said on Fox Business. Cut back on the caffeine, Senator. Your statement is not only dangerous but also downright stupid.

DeSantis’ lesson in executive power for the next Republican President” via Jonathan Tobin of JNS.org — With a stroke of his pen last week, DeSantis turned Hillsborough County State Attorney Warren into a liberal icon on Twitter and MSNBC. By firing Warren, he is setting a standard that many on the Right hope will be followed by the next Republican President, no matter who that turns out to be. The biggest problem is the fact that the people every Presidential administration relies upon to carry out its policies, the vast federal bureaucracy, are every bit as biased toward Democrats as the press.

University professors are afraid. Crackdown on ‘woke’ academia is already working” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Florida’s recent crackdown on academic freedom at public universities and colleges already is having its apparent intended effect, professors are muzzling themselves. In a story published Tuesday, the Miami Herald spoke to eight professors from four public universities across the state about their concerns about new laws dealing with discussions about race and gender, tenure and “intellectual diversity.” Two of those professors did not want to be identified. They feared retribution. Comparisons to dictators should be used sparingly. But Florida leaders defy reason when they profess to fight for “intellectual diversity” while instilling fear into faculty and inserting the state into classrooms.

In judge’s race, reckless Jessica Recksiedler needs to go” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Voters often have a tough time casting ballots in judicial races where it can be difficult to determine which candidate is best. However, in one judicial race this year, the decision isn’t tough at all. In choosing between Recksiedler and challenger John Mannion, the evidence is clear that a change is needed. Recksiedler tried to keep a man on death row, even after someone else confessed to the crime to four different people. The Supreme Court had to step in, and the man was ultimately freed after 14 years.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

A Key West veteran was shot in combat 53 years ago. He just got his Purple Heart medal” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — Alvin Lawrence Alce was surrounded by family, from his wife and grown children to his 10-month-old grandson, when an Army general pinned to his shirt a Purple Heart medal this week. The Vietnam War veteran had earned the honor more than a half-century ago in Vietnam. Alce, born and raised in Key West, was wounded at the Battle at Hamburger Hill. That’s a 3,000-foot mountain given the miserable nickname for the number of lives lost there within about 10 days in May 1969. Alce wears three battle scars from May 18, 1969. He was one of 372 Americans wounded at Hamburger Hill, where 72 died.

After a half-century, Alvin Lawrence Alce gets his due. Image via Monroe County.

Ken Griffin on why he spent $43 million to buy the U.S. Constitution” via Kelly Crow of The Wall Street Journal — Hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin caused an uproar last fall when he outbid a decentralized group of cryptocurrency investors to win a first edition copy of the U.S. Constitution for $43.2 million. To win the Constitution, he also had to outbid a group of more than 17,000 bidders who had organized online into a decentralized autonomous group, ConstitutionDAO. In a matter of days, this DAO raised more than $40 million specifically to buy the document from Sotheby’s on Nov. 18.

‘Best meteor shower of the year’ peaks this week, but something else could steal the show” via Val Lick of WTSP — One of nature’s best celestial shows is coming back this month, but a full moon might steal the show. NASA says the Perseids have a peak of 50 to 100 meteors per hour and are known for occasional fireballs, larger and longer-lasting “explosions of light and color” that come from larger comet fragments. One problem: The full moon is on Thursday. Its bright light can outshine meteors and make all but the brightest impossible to see.

What Alan Suskey is reading — “Pumpkin spice season starting earlier than ever” via Kelly Tyko of Axios — Summer isn’t over yet but pumpkin spice season is off to an earlier-than-ever start. Despite this year’s record heat and the weeks left of summer, the arrival of pumpkin spice signals the unofficial start of fall for some. It also kicks off the annual debate over whether it’s too soon for fall flavors and if “pumpkin everything” fanfare has gone too far. More than 50% of Gen Z respondents are obsessed with all things pumpkin spice. Dunkin’ announced Wednesday that it will launch its fall menu on Aug. 17 with the return of the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte, pumpkin doughnuts and muffins.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Brice Barnes, CBS’s Jim DeFede, Chris Hart IV and Matt Surrency.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.

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