Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.19.22

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Good Friday morning.

Listen up — A special new Hunkering Down podcast is now live; Peter Schorsch chats about Primary politics with former Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith. The one-time reporter (and longtime friend) talks about hot races, transitioning from newspapers to public relations, and gives an insider’s view of Tampa Bay politics and beyond.

Please, take a few moments and give a listen here:

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Florida Politics has you covered — Florida Politics is diving deep into the final days of the 2022 Primary with unprecedented coverage, reporting on more than 100 races — from North Florida congressional primaries to down-ballot contests in every corner of the state. Blanket coverage begins today and will continue through the weekend and into Election Day. So, please, visit FloridaPolitics.com regularly (even more than you do now!) to keep on pace with the latest developments — and don’t forget to vote! Thank you!

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More Florida voters say the state is headed in the right direction than the wrong one, and they think Gov. Ron DeSantis can continue the trend.

A new statewide poll published by the Florida Chamber of Commerce found 49% of likely voters like the state’s current trajectory compared with 45% who say Florida is on “the wrong track.”

The optimism carried across most Florida media markets, with Miami-Fort Lauderdale (43%-48%), Tallahassee (30%-60%) and West Palm Beach (43%-51%) bucking the rest of the state.

Ron DeSantis is keeping the Sunshine State on the right track, says a new Chamber poll.

The poll also asked voters what their top issues were heading into the Midterm Election, finding inflation food prices in the top spot by a wide margin — two-thirds of those polled said it was a “major issue,” though it did rank higher among Republicans (79%) and no-party voters (70%) than Democrats (53%).

About three in five Florida voters said gas prices were a “critically important issue,” with the results shaped by a similar partisan breakdown.

Voters are pinning the blame for economic woes on Washington rather than Tallahassee, as almost 6 out of 10 voters disapprove of President Joe Biden while 54% say DeSantis is doing swell.

As the job approval numbers suggest, DeSantis is primed for re-election, regardless of which Democrat he’s up against in November. If it’s U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, as most polls of the Democratic Primary predict, the poll found the incumbent would win by eight points. If Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried surges to the nomination, DeSantis would still comfortably win re-election.

The Florida Chamber poll was conducted Aug. 4-15, 2022, by Cherry Communications using live telephone interviews. It has a sample size of 608 and a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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Cory Mills leads the crowded Republican Primary for Florida’s 7th Congressional District, according to new polling from St. Pete Polls.

The survey, conducted on Aug. 17, asked 277 likely Republican Primary voters which of the eight GOP candidates on the ballot will get their vote, finding Mills with 23.9% support.

His advantage is slim, however, with Republican state Rep. Anthony Sabatini being the pick for 22.3% of those polled — the 1.6% gap between Sabatini and Mills is far smaller than the poll’s 5.9% margin of error.

Cory Mills takes the lead in a crowded CD 7 GOP Primary. Image via Cory Mills for U.S. Congress.

One other candidate earned double-digit support: Brady Duke.

At 15.5%, his deficit is beyond the margin of error. However, about a third of those polled said they had already cast their ballot, and Duke was the pick for 23.2% of those voters. Only Mills (27.3%) has fared better among Republicans who have already voted.

The bottom tier includes Rusty Roberts (6.6%), Erica Benfield (5%), Ted Edwards (4.9%), Scott Sturgill (3.2%) and Al Santos (2.1%).

There is still plenty of room for Sabatini, Duke or possibly a lower-tier candidate to surge in the final days of the race as St. Pete Polls found 16.4% of voters — roughly one in six — remain undecided.

CD 7 was redrawn this year from a Democratic-leaning seat into one that favors Republicans, so the winner of the Republican Primary is expected to replace exiting Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in January.

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A blistering TV ad rolling in Florida’s 15th Congressional District accuses state Sen. Kelli Stargel of fueling inflation and writing “sweetheart deals for her family.”

“Inflation is raging, and career politician Kelli Stargel poured fuel on the fire, writing Florida’s biggest budget in history — billions in waste even a new state building so her husband could avoid I-4 traffic,” the ad narrator says, referring to her role in crafting the state’s $110 billion budget and her funding request for a courthouse in the Lakeland area.

“Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed Stargel spending — a record $3.1 billion in cuts. Now she wants to spend her way to Washington. Massive spending, more inflation, and sweetheart deals for her family. Tell Kelli Stargel that’s not conservative.”

The ad was produced by the Conservative Action Fund, which FEC reports show spent about $100,000 in the past week on ads opposing Stargel in the CD 15 Republican Primary, including $56,250 to air TV ads.

The same committee has also spent money on ads supporting former Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who is Stargel’s chief rival in the Primary race.

Along with the new TV spot, Conservative Action Fund has released a volley of mailers that hit the same beats — one says she “busted the state budget.”

Another mailer takes aim at votes she and fellow GOP Primary candidate Rep. Jackie Toledo made on gun rights, highlighting their “C” ranking from the National Rifle Association and contrasting it with Lee’s “Aq” rating, which is the highest rating the organization awards to candidates who do not have a legislative voting record.

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

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@GovRonDeSantis: .@CaseyDeSantis and I extend our deepest condolences to Detective Cesar Echaverry’s family and friends. His sacrifice and commitment to our community will not be forgotten.

—@officialare_j: How come they didn’t make a big fuss when the seniors in The Villages committed voter fraud?

—@MaxNordau: DeSantis is baiting Florida Democrats into defending convicted murderers and rapists.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

—@lxeagle17: GOP Senate check: Dr. Oz has more houses than Herschel Walker has secret children, Blake Masters wants to privatize Social Security, Ted Budd is trailing (Cheri) Beasley, Ron Johnson has sub-40 favorables, and JD Vance is broke. Any other year, Rs would be looking at losing 4 seats.

—@bjoewolf: Saw a woman in the grocery store parking lot with a large “Let’s Go Brandon” flag flying from her truck. I thanked her for her support. 🙂

—@AGGancarski: I am so tired of watching people projecting power on camera by either twiddling their thumbs or holding their hands in some pointless diamond shape. Get a new alpha power projection trick, you frauds.

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 2; 2022 Florida Primary — 4; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 9; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 12; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 12; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 14; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 20; 2022 Emmys — 23; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 27; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 27; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 48; deadline to register for General Election — 52; 22-23 NHL season begins — 53; Everglades Foundation ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 60; Everglades Foundation ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 62; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 67; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 67; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 68; Early voting begins for General Election — 72; 2022 General Election — 81; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 84; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 84; FITCon 2022 begins — 90; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 90; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 94; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 94; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 95; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 103; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 103; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 119; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 182; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 200; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 217; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 242; 2023 Session Sine Die — 259; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 259; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 287; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 336; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 441; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 455; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 588; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 707; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 707; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 812; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 987.

— TOP STORY —

Ron DeSantis announces 20 felons charged with voter fraud across Florida” via Zac Anderson for the Tallahassee Democrat — “This is something we take very seriously as a state,” DeSantis said in lauding the work of a new election fraud unit that was part of legislation he supported.

DeSantis said most of the voters being charged with fraud are South Florida residents and were in the process of being arrested Thursday. The charges are in five different judicial districts across the state.

Those targeted are felons convicted of murder or sex offenses who voted in 2020 but were ineligible. Florida passed a constitutional amendment restoring felons’ voting rights after they served their sentences and paid all fines, fees and restitution.

Ron DeSantis vows election accountability. Some call it intimidation.

Certain offenses were excluded from automatic rights restoration, though. DeSantis said the voters targeted were among those whose offenses precluded automatic rights restoration.

“This is the opening salvo,” DeSantis said, promising more voting fraud prosecutions.

Agriculture Commissioner Fried, who is running in the Democratic Primary for Governor, called DeSantis’ news conference a “voter intimidation rally.”

Charlie Crist slams DeSantis ‘voter intimidation’ event — Crist blasted DeSantis for what he calls “attempting to intimidate voters” ahead of the Primary and General Elections when he announced filing charges of voter fraud against 20 felons at a Broward County news conference Thursday. “Ron DeSantis likes to say we had one of the best-run elections in 2020. Then why is he spending millions to alter the system, including making it harder for people to vote?” Crist said in a statement. “This is about playing politics, intimidating Democratic voters, and his desire to run for president, not securing elections.”

— 2022 —

Email insights: What DeSantis doesn’t want Donald Trump to see” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is in the Rust Belt Friday, in the latest example of political commitments taking the Governor out of Tallahassee. And the Lincoln Project asserts that he’s hoping a potential 2024 rival of his isn’t paying close attention. The email quoted therein is the standard celebratory self-regard about how DeSantis kept Florida free by banning Zuckerbucks, critical race theory, sanctuary cities, and other totems of woke-ism, and it sets up the supposition that DeSantis is petitioning the Almighty for Trump’s downfall.

Ron DeSantis leaves Florida for the Rust Belt. Will he fly under Donald Trump’s radar?

RPOF launches $190K satellite buy backing DeSantis, Cabinet — The Republican Party of Florida has placed a $189,556 media buy backing the re-election campaigns of DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. According to AdImpact, the campaign covers ads that began airing on satellite TV networks yesterday and will continue through Wednesday.

Email insights: Democrats dog DeSantis for courting ‘MAGA Extremists’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is traveling again in support of high-profile Republican candidates in other states, and the national Democratic Party is increasing awareness of his travel plans. The bluntly titled “Ron DeSantis continues his MAGA Extremist Tour” email from the Democratic National Committee’s “War Room” denounces the Governor for “palling around with fellow MAGA extremists to increase his national profile.” “Ron DeSantis continues traveling across the country campaigning for election deniers, abortion extremists, and associates of anti-Semites,” the email says.

Crist adds $57K to broadcast flight — Crist’s campaign has added another $57,050 to its statewide broadcast buy. According to AdImpact, the new cash is headed to the Orlando market for ads running through the end of the Primary Election. Crist’s campaign has spent more on broadcast ads in Orlando than any other media market, sending $536,506 to the area in the current flight. The next-closest market is Tampa, where the campaign has spent $346,506.

Florida Conservation Voters backs Crist for Governor — Environmental group Florida Conservation Voters is endorsing Crist for Governor. FCV announced its support during a GOTV Environmental Rally hosted by Charlie Crist’s campaign. In their announcement, FCV cited Crist’s record on environmental issues when he was Governor from 2007-11. “It is so exciting today to see the environmental community coming together again, united, behind Charlie’s candidacy for Governor of Florida. With Charlie Crist in the Governor’s Office, we know we’ll have a strong advocate,” said Will Abberger, who chairs the FCV Board of Directors. “With Charlie Crist in the Governor’s office, we know we’ll have somebody that will take head on the existential crisis our state faces with climate change.”

Progressive club rescinds Nikki Fried endorsement, backs Crist” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A progressive group based in Southwest Florida is rescinding its support for Democrat Fried days ahead of the Primary Election. Instead, the group now encourages voters to back Crist for the Democratic nomination for Governor. The Progressive Club of the Islands withdrew its support after the Palm Beach Post published an investigative report on sugar cane burning during Fried’s term as Agriculture Commissioner. Other newspapers quickly posted similar reports suggesting under Fried’s watch the state had been soft on agriculture. “These articles characterized her as favoring big industry rather than the needs of local citizens downwind of the burns,” reads an email from the club’s board of directors.

Fried gets $1 million from big business, ‘dark money’ groups” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Fried is getting major contributions from groups supported by Florida Power & Light, major sugar farmers, and dark money committees, while Crist’s donations largely come from labor unions and liberal philanthropists, campaign finance records show. The donations signal who’s putting their weight behind the two top contenders for the Democratic nomination for Governor. Knowing who they are may help push the 23% of voters who polls suggest are still sitting on the fence just days before Tuesday’s Primary, Florida political scientists said.

Fried rails against ‘voter intimidation rally’ — Following DeSantis’ announcement that 20 people had been arrested on voter fraud charges, Fried issued a statement describing the action as voter intimidation. “Ron DeSantis went to Broward County today for one reason and one reason only — to intimidate voters and suppress turnout in the most Democratic counties in Florida,” she said. “My message is this, if you’re eligible and registered, vote. It’s your right! Everybody wants elections to be secure, but Ron DeSantis — who has never refuted Donald Trump’s Big Lie — is the last person we can trust with ‘election police.’ As Governor, I will disband this force and return jurisdiction back to local authorities. That’s who needs to handle fraud, not Ron.”

Ryan Morales fires comms director after ‘insensitive’ ‘Nazi’ tweets about J.R. Gaillot” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — After initially standing firm in support of his Communications Director, Morales has fired Travis Henville from his campaign team following tweets about a fellow Democratic candidate. On Wednesday, candidate Gaillot accused Henville of calling him a “Nazi” in a tweet published that afternoon. Although Morales initially told Florida Politics that Gaillot could “go eff himself” over the complaint, Morales announced that he had parted ways with Henville. “After careful review, we decided it was best to part ways with Mr. Henville,” Morales said in a statement.

Social media minefield: Ryan Morales boots his comms director over Nazi tweets about opponent J.R. Gaillot.

— 2022: CONG —

Mystery attack texts, letter taped to door heat up this race” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The Democratic Primary race to succeed U.S. Rep. Val Demings turned even nastier Thursday, with Maxwell Frost targeted by several mysterious texts and Alan Grayson warning of “consequences” for Frost’s ads against him. One text accused Frost of sexually harassing co-workers. The text was “not true” and “a big lie,” Frost said. Another was aimed at another candidate for the seat, Sen. Randolph Bracy, which accused him of “lies to the voters.” Bracy suggested Grayson’s campaign could be a possible source of the texts.

Maxwell Frost, Alan Grayson make broadcast buys in CD 10 — Frost has put another $38,425 into broadcast ads as he seeks the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 10th Congressional District. The flight covers ads that will air in the Orlando media market today through the end of the Primary Election. Meanwhile, Democratic former U.S. Rep. Grayson has placed a $20,975 broadcast buy for his CD 10 campaign. The flight runs today through Tuesday, also in the Orlando market. Frost and Grayson are two of several Democrats running for the Central Florida-based district, which is open this year due to Demings opting to run for Senate rather than re-election. CD 10 is expected to elect a Democrat in November.

Maxwell Frost buys a last-minute air blast.

CD 13 Republican Primary: A Trump loyalty contest” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Republican Primary for Florida’s 13th Congressional District is a contest of who can out-Trump their opponents. The core battle of this Primary has been whittled down to one test: Who can prove the strongest loyalty to Trump? Notably, a June poll found that Trump remains popular with 85% of Republicans in the district. Just one in seven said they disapproved of him. While Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna boasts the coveted endorsement from the former President, former prosecutor Kevin Hayslett and Republican strategist Amanda Makki have tirelessly worked to also prove their alliance to Trump — even after he called them “RINOs.”

Former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker backs Anna Paulina Luna” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Former St. Petersburg Mayor Baker has announced his endorsement of Luna as she seeks the Republican nomination for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Baker, a Republican, served as Mayor of the city from 2001-2010. In announcing his endorsement via video, he called Luna a “fighter for America.”

To watch the video, please click the image below:

Jerry Torres makes $3K broadcast buy in CD 14 — Republican Torres has placed a $2,810 media buy in Florida’s 14th Congressional District. The flight covers broadcast ads that began airing in the Tampa media market on Tuesday and will continue through Primary Election Day. Earlier this week, the campaign spent $12,000 to place ads on Fox News. Torres is one of three Republicans running to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor in the Tampa Bay-area district.

‘Holy Toledo’: New Laurel Lee ad attacks Jackie Toledo, Kelli Stargel for ‘saying one thing, doing another’ — The 30-second spot claims Toledo ‘trashed Trump,’ backed amnesty, and got an “F” rating from the NRA. “Holy Toledo, she’s a politician,” the narrator declares. The ad continues: “Holy amnesty, Stargel’s worse,” claiming she also got a failing grade from the NRA and has advocated driver’s licenses “for illegals.” “They say they are conservative,” the voice-over concludes, “but vote like liberals.”

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

Jared Moskowitz dominates competitors in fundraising, endorsements to fill open CD 23 seat” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Some of those names bandied about as potential successors to Ted Deutch are now endorsing the candidate who has acquired an air of inevitability since he became the first major name to announce his candidacy, Broward County Commissioner Moskowitz. He’s raised the most money and secured the most high-profile endorsements in the race to represent the district that stretches from Boca Raton to Fort Lauderdale. But there are 12 other candidates in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, five other Democrats and seven Republicans, vying for Primary victory on Aug. 23 to win a spot in November’s General Election.

— 2022: LEG. —

Undecided on Democrats’ Primary for Jacksonville’s Senate District 5? Here’s a primer” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Tracie Davis and Reggie Gaffney have been parts of Jacksonville’s political life for years, but Democrats haven’t had to choose one over the other until now. If you’re thinking about who to vote for to represent Florida Senate District 5, here are some basic facts. District 5 covers most of Jacksonville inside Interstate 295 and on the Westside reaches as far west as the First Coast Expressway. Davis has represented District 13 in the Florida House since 2016. Gaffney has represented District 7 on the Jacksonville City Council since 2015 and is a former Chair of the Jacksonville Port Authority.

Before you cast a ballot, get to know a little more about Tracie Davis. Image via Florida House.

‘A fresh and needed voice of reason’: Florida Leadership Council endorses Ashley Gantt in HD 109” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The Florida Leadership Council (FLC) is throwing its collective weight behind Democratic community leader, lawyer and entrepreneur Gantt’s bid to represent north-central Miami-Dade County in House District 109. The group’s members include Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich, former U.S. Rep. Larry Smith, former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, former Education Commissioner Betty Castor, former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, former Florida House Speaker John Mills, former state Sens. Paula Dockery and Bud Gardner and former state Reps. Sam Bell, Fred Lippman, Juan-Carlos Planas and Sean Shaw.

— 2022: D-BALLOT —

Jacksonville Sheriff candidate T.K. Waters registered to vote in Nocatee. But he doesn’t live there.” via Andrew Pantazi of The Tributary — Waters, the front-runner in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Special Election, registered to vote in a Nocatee precinct even though his campaign admits he doesn’t live there, raising questions about whether he committed voter fraud. “T.K. and his family live on Jacksonville’s Northside and are building a home on the Southside,” said Alex Pantinakis, a political consultant working on Waters’ campaign. “Law enforcement officers’ exact addresses are protected by state statute.”

T.K. Waters says there’s no issue with where he lives.

Maxxed out: Tallying up and tracing $1,000 candidate checks in Tallahassee, Leon races” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The candidates running for local office in Tallahassee are a little flusher in the 2022 Election than they have been in previous cycles, thanks in part to new and higher campaign finance limits. As of the final week of the Primary, campaign donations for nearly every City and County Commission race are well over the total haul for the same seats four years ago. One reason for the increase is a state law passed in 2020 that raised individual and corporate contribution limits in local races to $1,000, doubling the maximum amount that can be given.

Independents surge in Brevard, other counties” via Dave Berman and Rick Neale of Florida Today — Nick Tomboulides used to be Vice Chair of the Brevard Republican Executive Committee. And Victoria Jones, the former Victoria Mitchner, used to be a Democratic candidate for the Brevard County Commission. But now, for very different reasons, Tomboulides left the Republican Party and Jones abandoned the Democrats. Both are now “no party affiliation” or NPA voters, joining many other Brevard County residents who have left the ranks of the two major parties to become independents. Latest Brevard County voter registration figures show that NPA and third-party registrants have surpassed Democrats in voter counts.

— STATEWIDE —

Trio of suits target Florida ‘woke’ law pushed by DeSantis” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — Known as the “Stop WOKE” act, the law targets what DeSantis has called a “pernicious” ideology exemplified by critical race theory — the idea that racism is systemic in U.S. institutions that serve to perpetuate White dominance in society. The law prohibits teaching or business practices that contend members of one ethnic group are inherently racist and should feel guilt for past actions committed by others. It also bars the notion that a person’s status as privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by their race or gender, or that discrimination is acceptable to achieve diversity. The lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court claims the law amounts to “racially motivated censorship” that will act to “stifle widespread demands to discuss, study and address systemic inequalities” underscored by the national discussion of race following the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

Stranger thing: Judge blocks workplace training portion of ‘Stop WOKE Act’” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A federal judge flayed a measure supported by DeSantis, likening the court’s decision to Eleven, the kinetic teen seeking to save her hometown from supernatural forces in the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” In his ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker compared Florida to a “new upside down,” an alternate universe populated by demons and monsters in the blockbuster show, in a ruling stopping enforcement of a new law, dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act” by DeSantis and its supporters. Walker issued a preliminary injunction Thursday on a portion of the new law that deals with workforce training, citing First Amendment concerns.

Stranger Things: A judge puts part of Ron DeSantis’ Stop WOKE Act to sleep.

‘Causing chaos in classrooms’ New law impacting educators unclear of what they can, can’t do” via Sue Erwin of the North Port Sun — A member of the Sarasota County Schools Board is seeking more information on a new law requiring curriculum transparency. Board member Shirley Brown said the policy, based on a new Florida law, states a committee shall be established to challenge textbooks. Brown asked, during a Wednesday workshop, what legal support the committee would have regarding questionable material. District Attorney Mike McKinley during a Wednesday workshop said he was always available for questions. “If the committee chair feels there is a legal issue, they can always reach out to me for guidance,” McKinley said.

Dept. of Interior files brief defending Seminole Compact — The Biden administration is attempting to resurrect the state’s Gaming Compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. As reported by Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida, the Department of Interior filed a 75-page brief defending the agreement on Wednesday. The Compact, which granted the Tribe exclusive control of sports betting in the state, was struck down by a federal judge last year after gaming companies sued to block the deal as a violation of federal Indian gaming laws. Lawyers for the Department of Interior maintain that the Compact does not violate the law and that states have the authority to decide whether to allow gaming on nontribal lands.

DeSantis’ proposed new rules for pension investments push Florida into fight against Wall Street” via Steve Contorno of CNN — As soon as next week, Florida pension fund managers could be barred from considering the social impact of their financial decisions as DeSantis opens a new front in his anti-“woke” crusade, this time focused on Wall Street and corporate CEOs. In new draft rules posted Monday on the website of the agency that oversees Florida’s pension fund, state investment managers can weigh only the risk or return of an investment when directing the state’s $200 billion in assets. The directive is DeSantis’ initial salvo against what he has called “ideological corporate power,” and it follows efforts by other GOP state leaders that are targeting companies that venture into the political arena.

State proposes new hospital licensure rule” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The Agency for Health Care Administration is altering its existing licensure standards and application form that hospitals submit to the state for initial, renewal and change of ownership applications. The agency will hold a one-hour meeting on the proposed changes, which have not been published, at agency headquarters in Tallahassee on Sept. 13. Thursday’s announcement comes after the state finalized a high-profile and controversial rule regarding regulation of neonatal intensive care units in May. It was more than two years in the making and was so controversial that AHCA entered “negotiated rule-making” with hospital industry representatives from across the state. Secretary Simone Marstiller assembled a 17-member panel and hired retired Judge Gregory Holder to mediate two days of discussions.

Are shoppers starting to pull back as cost of living rises?” via Bernadette Berdychowski of the Tampa Bay Times — Makena Wininger has had to make some serious adjustments to keep up with the rising cost of living in Tampa Bay. She moved in with her partner’s family in Land O’ Lakes after struggling to find another affordable apartment near her work. The 25-year-old was building credit card debt while buying gasoline for her new hour-long commute to Tampa. Wininger said she also changed her diet habits to save money at the grocery store. “Nine months ago, I wouldn’t have stood in the aisle as long as I do now to compare prices,” Wininger said.

— D.C. MATTERS —

‘Dark Brandon’ rises, and buoys Joe Biden’s beleaguered faithful” via Blake Hounshell of The New York Times — Nobody would ever accuse Biden of being Extremely Online. As a candidate, he strongly implied that he was not especially interested in social media. In a reversal of the usual way of the political world, his aides made it known that a communications team crafted his tweets and posts, not Biden himself. His campaign focused on winning local TV markets, not winning the morning with the Twitter cognoscenti and the “Morning Joe” regulars on MSNBC. In an age of micro news cycles that come and go like puffs of wind and running against an incumbent President who tweeted at all hours, about whatever seemed to cross his mind Biden’s fuddy-duddy approach to the modern news media offered an implicit promise to voters: I’ll be the remedy to the way that Trump lives rent-free in your heads.

‘Dark Brandon’ gains traction.

CDC eyes reset following external review” via Lauren Clason of Roll Call — CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is looking to reorganize the agency in the wake of an external review of the CDC’s COVID-19 response. Agency leaders have weathered backlash over the past two years for several missteps throughout the pandemic, including a faulty test rollout and confusing public health guidance on masks, tests and social distancing. The reorganization will focus on improving “accountability, collaboration, communication, and timeliness.” The plan aims to achieve a “more cohesive and customer-centric structure,” by implementing new programs and procedures to work more quickly and ensure more accountability. Walensky plans to set up an executive council to oversee the CDC’s progress on specific goals, consolidate various points of access for external stakeholders and establish a new equity office.

Biden keeps student loan borrowers in suspense over payment pause” via Alex Gangitano and Aris Folley of The Hill — Biden is keeping student loan borrowers in suspense over whether he’ll decide to again extend a freeze on repayments with less than two weeks to go until the Aug. 31 cutoff. It’s the smallest window of time borrowers have had so far since the pause in federal loan repayments began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with lawmakers and advocates pressuring the administration to make a decision that revolves around crucial financial planning. The delay in announcing a decision and the approaching midterm election raises questions over if the news will include more than a payment pause extension and potentially a long-awaited decision to forgive some amount of such debt.

U.S. plans to shift bill for COVID-19 shots and treatments to insurers, patients” via Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal — The Biden administration is planning for an end to its practice of paying for COVID-19 shots and treatments, shifting more control of pricing and coverage to the health care industry in ways that could generate sales for companies — and costs for consumers — for years to come. HHS intends to hold a planning session on Aug. 30 that would bring together representatives from drugmakers, pharmacies and state health departments with a stake in a COVID-19 treatment industry. Shifting payments for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines to the commercial market is expected to take months, an HHS representative said. At the meeting this month, officials and company representatives are expected to discuss reimbursement and coverage, regulatory issues, and access to vaccines and treatment for the uninsured.

Marco Rubio says Dem staffers worse than ‘dangerous’ Republicans” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Rubio is not unaware of the surging tide of extremism in the Republican Party. But when it comes to posing a danger to the Republic, the second-term Republican believes fringe members of the GOP pose less of a threat to America than staffers for the Democratic Party, who he says, “come from a different world.” “There are people throughout the American political spectrum that have all kinds of ideas, including people who claim to be Republicans, but I don’t agree with their ideas. And in some cases, I think their ideas might be dangerous,” Rubio said Wednesday on the Adam Carolla podcast.

For Marco Rubio, one fringe is better than another.

House GOP leadership intrigue” via Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News — Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 ranking House Republican, is going to run again for the leadership, a source familiar with her plans tells us. There are two slots that Stefanik is considering if Republicans take the majority. The fourth-term lawmaker currently serves as House Republican Conference chair, and she could run for re-election to that post if the GOP takes the majority. Or Stefanik is considering running for majority whip, the No. 3 job if Republicans win the House. There was some chatter that Stefanik would bow out of the leadership and run for Education and Labor Committee Chair in a potential GOP majority, but she’s now going to stay in the leadership. This will impact a whole host of lawmakers who are going to be waiting for Stefanik’s decision to make a move.

Inflation Reduction Act is the law but partisan politicking continues” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Democrats in Florida are going on a public relations push to tout provisions of the newly enacted Inflation Reduction Act, including those dealing with health care and climate change. Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and state Rep. Kelly Skidmore, had their own news conference talking about the benefits of the legislation which will allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain top drugs. The measure signed by Biden also places a cap on insulin prices for Medicare participants. Crist held a separate event on Thursday with Protect Our Care Florida to also promote the new law.

— JAN. 6 —

Surprise: The Department of Justice appears to believe Trump might have committed a crime on Jan. 6” via Bess Levin of Vanity Fair — The prosecutors investigating the events leading up to Jan. 6 issued a grand jury subpoena in May to the National Archives for “all the documents the agency provided to a parallel House select committee inquiry,” including “records from the files of Trump’s top aides, his daily schedule and phone logs, and a draft text of the President’s speech that preceded the riot.” The subpoena, the Times notes, “suggests that … prosecutors believe evidence of a crime may exist in the White House documents the archives turned over to the House panel.”

It seems Donald Trump is worse off than originally thought. Surprised?

‘Ludicrous.’ ‘Ridiculous.’ ‘A complete fiction.’: Former Trump officials say his claim of ‘standing order’ to declassify is nonsense” via Jamie Gangel, Elizabeth Stuart and Jeremy Herb of CNN — In the days since the FBI seized classified and top secret documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, the former President and his allies have claimed that Trump had a “standing order” to declassify documents he took from the Oval Office to the White House residence. But 18 former top Trump administration officials tell CNN they never heard any such order issued during their time working for Trump, and that they believe the claim to be patently false. Several officials laughed at the notion. One senior administration official called it “bullsh*t.” Two of Trump’s former chiefs of staff went on the record to knock down the claim.

Republicans say Mike Pence testimony on Jan. 6 could provide key information and shift political climate” via Juliegrace Brufke of the Washington Examiner — Republicans have widely panned the Jan. 6 select committee as a partisan exercise, but multiple GOP lawmakers say former Vice President Pence is expressing openness to testifying before the panel, which could provide key insight into an array of matters related to the attack on the Capitol should he decide to appear. Pence told attendees of a Politics & Eggs breakfast in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Wednesday that “if there was an invitation to participate, I would consider it,” adding the caveat that he would have to reflect on the decision.

Judge lets Jan. 6 attacker who stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop out to go to Renaissance festival” via Sarah K. Burris of RawStory — Most felons are locked up until their time is served, but not Riley Williams. The 25-year-old Capitol attacker who stole Pelosi’s laptop will be allowed out of house arrest to attend the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, a court order detailed. Williams explained she’s been doing some light cleaning while under home detention for the past year and a half. “She is confined to her home 24/7 with exceptions. Every once in a while, if there is an activity that interests her, we ask if she can attend,” her attorney explained. But that 24/7 will be put on pause for eight hours because Williams simply must be at the festival over the weekend.

A Jan. 6 participant has been harassing police officers at a Capitol attack trial” via NBC San Diego — A man who was at the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol but has not been arrested confronted two law enforcement officers this week who were witnesses at the trial of another man facing felony charges related to the insurrection. The man, Tommy Tatum, of Mississippi, who has posted extensively online about Jan. 6 and refers to himself as an independent investigative journalist, has been posting videos of himself harassing officers who fought off the mob on Jan. 6. “Do you think you honored your father’s memory by trying to kill me that day?” Tatum asked a D.C. Metropolitan Police officer. “How does that make you feel as a man, does that bring your Vietnamese father honor? … I hope you take this dishonor to your family to the grave.”

How Jan. 6 could matter to voters in the midterms — and beyond” via Adam Wollner of CNN — For much of 2022, it looked like the November election would be a straightforward referendum on Biden and the Democrats. Republicans expected to use frustration with the economy to bring college-educated suburban voters back into the fold. But the combination of the Jan. 6 hearings, the Dobbs decision, and the GOP nominating extreme candidates who campaigned on the lie that the 2020 election was stolen have cost Republicans their edge in many statewide races. The Jan. 6 hearings have put Trump’s election lies on trial. And GOP candidates running on those lies are less palatable to swing voters.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Judge signals he’s willing to unseal some of Mar-a-Lago affidavit” via Josh Dawsey and Perry Stein of The Washington Post — Federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said Thursday that he is “inclined” to unseal some of the affidavit central to last week’s FBI search of Trump’s Florida home, instructing the Justice Department to redact the document in a way that would not undermine its ongoing investigation if made public. Reinhart, appearing to reject the government’s argument for keeping the entire document sealed, said he would decide after next Thursday, when Justice Department officials are expected to submit their proposed redactions. The affidavit would provide the most comprehensive rationale for why the government pushed to search Trump’s property — and what investigative steps it had taken beforehand.

We may soon know why the feds searched Mar-a-Lago.

Judge orders Justice Dept. to prepare Trump affidavit redactions, leans toward disclosure” via Michael Wilner and Omar Rodriguez Ortiz of the Miami Herald — A federal judge in Florida said he is likely to order the release of a key court document behind the search of Trump’s home, despite warnings from the Justice Department that its disclosure could “irreparably harm” an ongoing criminal investigation. The legal fight is over an affidavit, which shows probable cause in a criminal case, names witnesses to a potential crime and lays out a likely path toward criminal prosecution. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered the Justice Department to prepare redactions to the affidavit that led to the Aug. 8 search of the Mar-a-Lago estate by noon next Thursday.

Another Trump mystery: Why did he resist returning the government’s documents?” via Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — Trump treated the federal government and the political apparatus operating in his name as an extension of his private real estate company. And White House documents? “They’re mine,” three of Trump’s advisers said that he stated repeatedly when he was urged to return boxes of documents. Trump, John Bolton said, never told him he planned to take a document and use it for something beyond its value as a memento. It was “sort of whatever he wants to grab for whatever reason,” Bolton said. “He may not even fully appreciate” precisely why he did certain things. But officials worried, particularly about the documents falling into the wrong hands.

‘Ludicrous.’ ‘Ridiculous.’ ‘A complete fiction.’: Former Trump officials say his claim of ‘standing order’ to declassify is nonsense” via Jamie Gangel, Elizabeth Stuart and Jeremy Herb of CNN — In the days since the FBI seized classified and top secret documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, the former President and his allies have claimed that Trump had a “standing order” to declassify documents he took from the Oval Office to the White House residence. But 18 former top Trump administration officials tell CNN they never heard any such order issued during their time working for Trump, and that they believe the claim to be patently false. Several officials laughed at the notion. One senior administration official called it “bullsh*t.” Two of Trump’s former chiefs of staff went on the record to knock down the claim.

Allen Weisselberg, a top Trump executive, pleads guilty in tax scheme” via Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum of The New York Times — As part of the plea deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the executive, Weisselberg, is required to testify at the company’s trial if prosecutors choose to call on him, and to admit his role in conspiring with Trump’s company to carry out the tax scheme. That testimony could tilt the scales against the company, the Trump Organization, as it prepares for an October trial related to the same accusations. “Yes, your honor,” Weisselberg said again and again in response to detailed questions from the judge, Juan Merchan, who asked whether he and the Trump Organization committed the criminal conduct underlying each of the 15 counts.

Trump rakes in millions off FBI search at Mar-a-Lago” via Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf of The Washington Post — Trump bombarded his supporters with more than 100 emails asking for money based on the FBI’s search of the Mar-a-Lago Club for classified materials last week. They paid off. Contributions to Trump’s political action committee topped $1 million for at least two days after the Aug. 8 search of his estate, according to two people familiar with the figures. The daily hauls jumped from a level of $200,000 to $300,000 that had been typical in recent months. The donations stayed unusually high for several more days and are still above average, both people said, though they have leveled off in recent days. There are more contributors than usual, these people said, and the average donation has climbed.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

‘Surrounded by loved ones,’ Miami-Dade detective dies two days after shooting” via Charles Rabin and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Echaverry, a Miami-Dade robbery detective on life-support for two days after a shootout with a suspected armed robber left him brain-dead, died Wednesday night when doctors removed the ventilator that had been keeping him alive. “It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the untimely passing of Officer Cesar “Echy” Echaverry,” Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez wrote on Twitter. “Surrounded by loved ones, Echy succumbed to his injuries after a brief battle for his life.” Echaverry, the first Miami-Dade officer killed in the line of duty since 2011, will receive full honors during a memorial service in the coming days.

End of watch: RIP to Detective Cesar Echaverry.

Palm Beach County School Board lambasted for designating day off for Muslim holiday” via Katherine Kokal of The Palm Beach Post — Some Palm Beach County residents castigated School Board members Wednesday for accepting recognition from a Muslim community organization for incorporating a day off for students in future school years to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. At its June 1 meeting, the board approved calendars for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years that included days off on April 10, 2024, and March 31, 2025, the end of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting.

FDOT hears public questions, concerns about construction of I-95 interchange at Oslo Road” via Thomas Weber of Treasure Coast Newspapers — As the Florida Department of Transportation prepares for an Interstate 95 interchange at Oslo Road, about 20 residents gathered at a public meeting Wednesday to ask questions and raise their concerns about the project. The long-awaited, $85.4 million project, slated to break ground next summer, would provide quicker access to I-95 for the southern county. The project also includes widening a portion of Oslo Road to four lanes, replacing its bridge and installing lights, sidewalks, storm drainage and bike lanes.

Fellsmere Police Chief Keith Touchberry to lead Florida Police Chiefs Association” via Janet Begley of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Officer wellness, recruitment and retention are just three of the priorities Touchberry is setting for himself as he takes on the presidency of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. Touchberry, 58, was sworn in as president by Fellsmere Mayor Joel Tyson the second week of August during the Association’s 70th Summer Training Conference in Palm Beach Gardens. Also continuing on the Florida Police Chief’s Association board overseeing District 6 for another year is Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey.

Keith Touchberry takes the reins of the Florida Police Chief’s Association.

Port Canaveral expects record revenue, strong profits for next budget year” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Port Canaveral is projecting a record-shattering $153.96 million in operating revenue for the budget year that begins Oct. 1, boosted largely by an increase in cruise ship calls, having larger ships based there, and the debut of a sixth cruise line, Marella, in 2023. The port also projects a total of $76.76 million in combined profits and government capital grants for the coming year, which will be used by the port for a range of capital projects, from upgrades to cruise and cargo berths to improvements to campground and fishing facilities. Port Canaveral Chief Financial Officer Michael Poole detailed the port’s proposed 2022-23 budget to Canaveral Port Authority Commissioners this week, and the reaction was positive among Commissioners.

Libs of TikTok creator backed by Babylon Bee CEO of Juno Beach” via Chris Persaud of The Palm Beach Post — Seth Michael Dillon, CEO of The Babylon Bee “satire” website, said he has a “deal” with Chaya Raichik, owner of a Twitter account who claims gay and transgender people “groom” children to accept sexual abuse from adults. Raichik, a real estate salesperson working in Brooklyn, runs the Twitter account “Libs of TikTok.” She shares videos that LGBTQ people or their supporters upload to the social media platform TikTok. Some of Raichik’s 1.1 million followers then harass the targets and send them death threats.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Hillsborough kills incinerator permit request in Lutz” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County Commissioners, sitting as environmental regulators, denied permission Thursday for a yard waste incinerator to operate in Lutz. Commissioner Ken Hagan made the motion to stop work on the application from Louis Geraci LLLP to put the incinerator on Crystal Lake Road east of N. Dale Mabry Highway. The location, near Idlewild Baptist Church, an adult living facility and residential neighborhoods, sparked overwhelming objections from residents raising concerns about air pollutants. “The applicants for this facility are putting the health of our children, our elderly, our wildlife, and ourselves at risk,” said Allison Jacobs. “It doesn’t make sense. This project is a mistake.”

Lutz takes a hard pass on an incineration plant.

USF, seeking more stature, says $50M from state would go a long way” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — The goal has been on the University of South Florida’s wish list for more than a decade now — joining the nation’s premier league of more than 60 research institutions. Entry into the Association of American Universities is by invitation only. But in its state budget request for next year, USF is hoping a $50 million allocation can help it get in. After a historic 2022 budget year in which USF received more than $245 million in legislative funds, a board of trustees work group this week approved a list of requests for next year that amount to another big ask.

Sarasota County deputies shoot, kill machete-wielding man” via the Venice Gondolier — Sarasota County Sheriff’s deputies shot a suspect, who had a large machete, when responding to an armed burglary in Sarasota. The suspect later died. On Thursday morning, deputies were called to the 300 block of Richardson Way in Sarasota. A resident who lives there allegedly woke up to a suspect using a baseball bat to sharpen a large machete with a 15-inch blade. While in an efficiency apartment, the homeowner called 911 and fled. When deputies arrived, the suspect was still holding the machete. He advanced toward deputies and struck one in the hand, causing severe injuries

Artemis launch: Space Coast hotels are filling up. Where should I stay to watch NASA mega moon rocket liftoff?” via Jennifer Sangalang of Florida Today — As NASA preps for its Space Launch System rocket launch at the end of the month, the Space Coast could see a bump in visitors. Hotels here are filling up, and 100,000 visitors are expected to watch NASA’s mega moon rocket launch on Aug. 29. An Aug. 17 check on travel sites online shows there are still hotel rooms available the weekend of Aug. 29, with prices ranging from $80 to $500 per night, and they are expected to fill up fast.

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

Air Center launches at Punta Gorda Airport” via Daniel Sutphin of the Port Charlotte Sun — Local officials and airport staff cut the ribbon Thursday on the new PGD Air Center at Punta Gorda Airport. “This has been on paper and a dream of the airport since around 2007,” Airport CEO James Parish told a crowd that included local and state officials, first responders, pilots and employees. The new 13,000-square-foot facility. in the airport district, provides services for general aviation pilots and aviation-based companies. The new facility houses FBO (fixed-base operator) operations, meeting and event space, a restaurant and bar, leasable office suites, a pilot lounge, and aircraft parking on a 510,000-square-foot ramp.

— MORE LOCAL: N. FLORIDA —

Escambia County home prices inch up 0.5%, Santa Rosa County prices dip 2.6%” via Mike Stucka and Sean Lahman of the Pensacola News Journal — A typical Escambia County home listed for $351,750 in July, up 0.5% from the previous month’s $350,000. The median list home price in July was up about 21.7% from July 2021. Escambia County’s median home was 1,830 square feet for a listed price of $189 per square foot. The Escambia County market was busy, with a median 31 days on market. A month earlier, homes had a median 27 days on the market. The market added 560 new home listings in July, compared with the 528 added in July 2021. The market ended the month with some 1,013 listings of homes for sale.

Okaloosa County, Destin partner to purchase beachfront property for new park’” via Devon Ravine of the Northwest Florida Daily News — It looks like beachgoers in Destin’s Crystal Beach neighborhood may soon have more public space to plant their umbrellas in the sand. The city of Destin and the Okaloosa County Commission approved this week an interlocal agreement to buy 336 feet of beachfront property adjacent to Destin’s Tarpon Street public beach access on Scenic Highway 98. The deal, negotiated by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, calls for the purchase of three separate beachfront parcels for just over $14 million. All three parcels have the same owner, and the trust currently has an agreement with an option to purchase in October and close in November.

Crystal Beach to get a little more recreational space.

Donations come in to stave off sale, but leaders say it won’t ‘save Miracle Hill’” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — A special committee has raised more than $102,000 to halt the sale of the historic Miracle Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation to a largely unknown buyer. The committee issued an Aug. 15 letter to Primitive Baptist churches and supporters as a call to action. The committee asked every church to raise $1,000 and hopes to raise $1 million by Sept. 20. The Rev. James Chester, pastor at Orthodox Zion Primitive Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, chairs the committee and said he believes the fundraising efforts will be effective. Donations, he said, will help ease Miracle Hill’s financial burden. “I believe the people will rally in order to be able to keep it,” Chester said.

Sticker shock: JEA customers’ electric bills keep rising at a rapid clip. Here’s why.” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The cost of gas at the pump is falling, but the fuel charge on JEA electric bills keeps going up. The two trendlines show the complex state of the worldwide energy industry and how the pain is hitting consumers in different ways. The cost of electricity used by JEA customers will be about 38% higher for a typical residential customer in August than it was at the same time a year ago, a jump that stands out even in the current inflationary economy. “We know recent customers’ bills have been more of a burden, and we’ve heard from you through phone calls, emails, and conversations in your neighborhoods,” JEA CEO Jay Stowe wrote in a letter this month to customers.

JASMYN in Jacksonville to benefit after Ariana Grande raises $3 million for LGBTQ youth” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — A fundraiser launched by Grande earlier this year has raised over $3 million. Now, Jacksonville’s local LGBTQ youth center, JASMYN, is set to benefit from some of those funds. Grande, a South Florida native, started her “Protect & Defend Trans Youth Fund” earlier this year for Pride Month. “Right now, there are hundreds of bills pending state Legislatures across the United States that target trans youth and aim to curb their rights,” Grande wrote.

UF receives $3.6 million grant to prepare nurses to meet the growing demand” via Aida Mallard of The Gainesville Sun — The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on health care has made it more important than ever for nursing schools to educate the next generation of front-line providers. Now, thanks to an effort by Florida lawmakers to combat the nursing shortage, the University of Florida College of Nursing plans to build a “pipeline” to move well-prepared nurses into the workforce. The state’s top-ranked nursing program, the College of Nursing, will receive $3.6 million in state grants referred to as “Prepping Institutions, Programs, Employers and Learners through Incentives for Nursing Education” funding for the fiscal year 2023.

— TOP OPINION —

Michael Beltran: Sacking Andrew Warren was right, and constitutional. Here’s why” via Florida Politics — No publication has explained the constitutional provisions that not only allowed, but required, DeSantis to suspend Warren and replace him with Judge Susan Lopez. This decision was not made lightly, or even suddenly, and the Governor, myself, and our law enforcement partners provided an hour of detailed explanation earlier this month.

Article IV of the state constitution, Section 1(a), states that the Governor “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed …”

This provision is not a mere suggestion or best practice; it is an affirmative and binding command in the very first sentence of our foundational document controlling our government, including the office of Governor.

Article IV, Section 7(a), states that the Governor “may suspend from office any state officer not subject to impeachment, … any county officer, for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony, and may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension.”

Warren easily met several of these criteria.

Under our constitution, elected officials include legislators, who draft the laws; the Governor, who signs our laws; State Attorneys, who (are supposed to) file charges; and judges, who adjudicate cases. All of them do only three things: they read, write, and speak.

Warren failed to perform those critical tasks consistent with his constitutional oath.

— OPINIONS —

Trump is going after one of the most conservative institutions in the U.S. government” via Garrett M. Graff for The New York Times — Of all the weird and historically discordant moments and news stories of the Trump era, few seem stranger than watching the former President and his allies demonize the FBI. Historically, though, the FBI. has been arguably the most culturally conservative and traditionally white Christian institution in the entire U.S. government. It’s an institution so culturally conservative, even by the standards of law enforcement, that Democratic presidents have never felt comfortable — or politically emboldened — enough to nominate a Democrat to head the bureau. That’s right: Far from being a bastion of progressive thinking, every single director of the FBI has been a Republican-aligned official, going all the way back to its creation. Such history suggests that the issue here is Trump and not institutional bias.

Lies. Threats. Antisemitic hatred. How low will Trumpers go?” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — What might not have been foreseen was how many elected Republicans have echoed Trump’s lies and attacks on the FBI and the Justice Department, and how few speak up for the Constitution and the rule of law. That is pernicious. DeSantis and Rubio, two presidential wannabes on the Florida ballot for re-election in November, are both on the wrong side. They should be telling the public to stay calm and let the judicial process run its course. After his absurd removal of a duly elected state attorney in Hillsborough County, DeSantis is the last person who should be talking about weaponizing government power. Rubio’s no better, falsely comparing the Mar-a-Lago search to the persecution of Daniel Ortega’s political opponents in Nicaragua.

If Gov. DeSantis really wants to oust officials, here’s a list” via Craig Pittman for the Tampa Bay Times — Now that the Governor has shown an appetite for ousters, I have a list of other Florida officials he ought to evict. Let’s start with state Sen. Gayle Harrell. A big chunk of North Florida would cheer her removal from office because the Stuart Republican was the sponsor of the 2021 bill that called for building the Northern Turnpike Extension. The next candidate for the firing line: Jared Perdue, the DOT secretary. Perdue deserves a DeSantis Downsizing because the DOT district he recently ran is blatantly kowtowing to developers for one I-95 interchange. Moving along, we next come to the head of the state Department of Environmental Protection, Shawn Hamilton. How’s he doing? Absolutely outstanding, according to the polluters. But if you’re interested in clean waterways, the answer is: Not so good.

— WEEKEND TV —

Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Two Democrats running in Florida’s 15th Congressional District — Alan Cohn and Eddie Geller.

ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Moms for Liberty Co-Founder Tina Descovich and Celine Pastore, retirement adviser from SimplePath Retirement.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at South Florida politics and other regional issues.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion about elected offices at the county and local level and how they have a direct impact on the lives of Floridians. Joining Walker are Commissioner Harry Cohen, District 1, Hillsborough County; Mayor David Alfin, Palm Coast, Flagler County; and Ed Narain, former State Representative and now a political analyst.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Demings will discuss inflation, the search of Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago, and her U.S. Senate campaign.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Host Ybeth Bruzual will speak with the four candidates running for seats in the 9th Judicial Circuit to discuss the challenges of judicial campaigns, and how voters can learn more about judicial candidates on the ballots.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon and pollster Steve Vancore.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Crist, U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz, and UNF President Moez Limayem.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

The Rancor’s return: ‘Book of Boba Fett’ animator on resurrecting the iconic ‘Star Wars’ beast” via Michaela Zee of Variety — Animation supervisor Paul Kavanagh was not only thrilled to animate the rancor for “The Book of Boba Fett,” but also to see the iconic “Star Wars” creature in action. While determining how to capture the ferocity of the reptilian beast through CG, Kavanagh reached out to VFX veteran Phil Tippett, a puppeteer of the original Rancor in “Return of the Jedi.” Having a Rolodex of past creators from the George Lucas productions at the ready is clearly a huge perk to working at Industrial Light & Magic. According to Kavanagh, Tippett recalled on Zoom how he controlled the Rancor puppet with “one hand up its ass” while filming the 1983 film.

Veteran Star Wars animators cheer the return of The Rancor.

How a Tampa man turned his house into a Disney shrine” via Gabrielle Calise of the Tampa Bay Times — Bruce Michaud lives in a quiet, deed-restricted community. Muscovy ducks plod through manicured lawns, past homes with neutral paint, and American flags swinging in the breeze. The exterior of his gray house blends in with the rest. You would never suspect the Disney explosion inside. Nearly every room is lovingly decorated with its own Disney theme. This is what happens when you hang on to a childhood dream long enough to bankroll it. His first wife didn’t share his vision of living Disney. “The whole house was white and I couldn’t paint a wall,” he said. They divorced a decade ago. He got on a stepladder and started DIYing the day she moved out.

Where exactly will astronauts land on the moon? NASA is going to tell us” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — NASA has announced a news conference for 2 p.m. Friday to reveal potential landing locations for the Artemis III mission, which is still targeting a launch in 2025, but not before the uncrewed Artemis I flight slated to launch on Aug. 29 and a crewed Artemis II flight in 2024 that will send humans back to the moon, but not only to orbit it. Artemis III would mark humans’ return to the surface for the first time since Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt left the surface on Dec. 14, 1972. The Apollo program managed six landings with two humans each for a total of 12 walking on the moon between 1969-1972.

Gas-powered muscle cars drive into the sunset, turn electric” via Tom Krisher of The Associated Press — Thundering gas-powered muscle cars, for decades a fixture of American culture, will be closing in on their final Saturday-night cruises in the coming years as automakers begin replacing them with superfast cars that run on batteries. Stellantis’ Dodge brand, long the performance flag-bearer of the company formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, is officially moving toward electricity. On Wednesday night, Dodge unveiled a battery-powered Charger Daytona SRT concept car, which is close to one that will be produced in 2024 as the sun sets on some petroleum models. Stellantis says it will stop making gasoline versions of the Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars and the Chrysler 300 large car by the end of next year. Other automakers are moving — or have moved — in the same direction.

Electrifying: The end of gas-guzzling muscle machines?

Apple targets Sept. 7 for iPhone 14 launch in flurry of new devices” via Mark Gurman of Bloomberg — Apple Inc. is aiming to hold a launch event on Sept. 7 to unveil the iPhone 14 line, according to people with knowledge of the matter, rolling out the latest version of a product that generates more than half its sales. The new iPhones will kick off a busy fall product season, which will also include multiple new Macs, low-end and high-end iPads, and three Apple Watch models. Apple is updating its flagship product at a precarious time for the industry. Smartphone sales have begun to flag as consumers cope with inflation and a shaky economy. But Apple appears to be faring better than its peers: The iPhone sold well last quarter, and the company has signaled to suppliers that it doesn’t foresee a drop-off in demand.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Wadi Gaitan, Rheb Harbison of GrayRobinson, William Hatfield of the Tallahassee Democrat, Merritt Lindstrom, and Elnatan Rudolph of Converge Government Affairs. And belated best wishes to tech wiz Lucas Von Hollen on turning the big 3-0.

___

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

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