Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.5.22

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Good Friday morning.

What is going on with the Hernando County School Board? Can they get anything right politically?

The latest is a judge ruling against the School Board over its zeal to place a sales tax referendum on the November 2022 ballot for schools. The referendum would extend the current half-cent school sales tax beyond 2025.

Is this the gang who can’t shoot straight?

The conservative County Commission, which has the final say on when local referendums go on the ballot, wanted to delay the tax question to 2024.

The County Commission argued 2024 made more sense because that’s closer to when the sales tax expires in 2025.

Not to mention, perhaps we won’t be in the middle of historic inflation by then.

It seems the judge agreed.

This comes on the heels of a dust-up between the School Board and state Senator-to-be Blaise Ingoglia over sexually explicit books in school libraries.

Ingoglia has been very critical of the School Board for allowing those books in school libraries.

After Ingoglia alerted parents to the existence of the books, Superintendent John Stratton was forced to admit in a July 22 letter that “several books containing mature content were found in a few of our schools.”

Fighting with the County Commission and state Rep.-to-be Jeff Holcomb over raising taxes. Fighting with Ingoglia over inappropriate books. And losing on all fronts.

When will the Hernando County School Board start getting it right?

A scrum with Blaise Ingoglia is among the losing battles for Hernando County Schools.

Here are other thoughts before we get into Ron DeSantis vs. Andrew Warren:

🐘🐴 — Republicans may be on track to win the U.S. House but the Senate is basically a tossup. According to Kyle Kondik of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the reason the GOP will have a tougher time winning the upper chamber is candidate quality — their nominees are pretty green compared to 2014, when they last flipped the Senate. Democrats’ weakness, meanwhile, is experience. Many of their candidates are longtime incumbents with long voting records to exploit.

⚰️ — The U.S. and Florida flags flew at half-staff Thursday in honor of U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, who died Wednesday at the age of 58. Walorski represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District from 2013 until her death. At the President’s request and as a mark of respect, DeSantis issued an order to fly flags at half-staff at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds from noon until midnight on Thursday.

Also, Matt Dixon and I taped a pod while I was RV’ing through Georgia earlier this week. Please consider listening.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@GovRonDeSantis: Prosecutors have a duty to enforce the law, not pick and choose which laws they agree with. The State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit, Andrew Warren, has instituted non-enforcement policies and has declared that he will refuse to enforce laws he doesn’t like.

@AndrewWarrenFL: Just because the Governor violates your rights, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

@Paul_Renner: Bigger than party or partisanship, the rule of law is the foundation of public safety and a just society. You are judged equally based on what you do, not whether you are favored or disfavored by those in power.

@JaneCastor: Removing a duly elected official should be based on egregious actions — not political statements. In a free state, voters should choose their elected officials. Tampa remains one of safest cities of its size thanks to the cooperation between our officers & law enforcement partners.

@EvanAxelbank: Warren is going to be the focus of two stories in the TB media market tonight 1. His removal by the Governor 2. A family thanking him for bringing them justice in a cold case from 1983

@StephHayes: So, this stunt definitely propels Andrew Warren to a national political stage now, right?

@JeremyRedfern: We are now getting requests for monkeypox guidance from school boards. Guys … c’mon. @FLSurgeonGen and @HealthyFla isn’t going to let you put masks on kids for a disease that is almost exclusively spreading among adult men through sexual contact.

@MacStipanovich: Tweets are today’s yard signs, and they are limited to one neighborhood. Use them at your peril to judge the status of a political race.

@BSFarrington: The best secret bar in Tallahassee is my back porch.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 4; Early voting begins for Primaries — 8; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 12; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 13; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 16; 2022 Florida Primary — 18; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 23; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 26; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 26; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 28; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 34; 2022 Emmys — 38; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 41; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 41; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 62; deadline to register for General Election — 66; 22-23 NHL season begins — 67; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 81; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 81; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 82; Early voting begins for General Election — 85; 2022 General Election — 95; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 98; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 98; FITCon 2022 begins — 104; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 104; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 108; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 108; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 109; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 117; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 117; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 133; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 196; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 214; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 231; 2023 Session Sine Die — 273; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 273; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 301; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 350; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 455; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 469; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 602; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 721; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 721; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 826; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,001.

— TOP STORY —

Ron DeSantis suspends Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis said Warren has “put himself publicly above the law” by signing letters saying he would not enforce laws prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors or laws limiting abortion.

“Our government is a government of laws,” DeSantis said. “Not a government of men.”

On Thursday morning, Warren was escorted out of his office. In the afternoon, he was set to host a news conference about a “major development” related to the case of Robert DuBoise, who was exonerated in 2020 after serving 37 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. After DeSantis’ suspension, Warren’s office canceled the event.

No one is above the law, says Ron DeSantis — justifying the removal of a duly elected State Attorney.

DeSantis said Thursday that the decision to suspend Warren began when he noticed prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco selectively enforcing crimes. He said he asked his staff to look around Florida “to make sure that was not going to happen here.”

After his staff spoke with police and prosecutors, Warren’s name repeatedly came up, DeSantis said.

“It all came back to this area here, in the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County,” DeSantis said. “And the response that we got was a lot of frustration on the part of law enforcement for criminals being let go and crimes not being prosecuted.”

Here is the Executive Order.

‘The irony is a little rich’: Warren slams DeSantis over suspension” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Warren lambasted DeSantis’ decision to suspend the prosecutor, arguing that the Governor is “trying to overthrow the results of a free and fair election.” “The Governor is trying to overthrow the results of a fair and free election. Two of them actually,” Warren said. “People need to understand this isn’t the Governor trying to suspend the one elected official. This is the Governor trying to overthrow democracy here in Hillsborough County.” Warren responded. The announcement came without notice to Warren. “I woke up to do my job today, and that’s exactly what I did,” Warren said. “Just based on the Governor’s track record with unconstitutional orders, I have a feeling that this is going to be just as unconstitutional.”

Andrew Warren punches back.

—”Warren’s suspension draws Democrats’ denunciations” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

—”Hillsborough law enforcement officials aren’t talking about decision to remove State Attorney” via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times

Meanwhile … “State Attorney: DNA exonerates man in 1983 Tampa murder” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — A man who has been incarcerated for 37 years may soon be released after new DNA evidence revealed he is innocent of a 1983 Tampa rape and murder, Warren said. Warren announced in a news conference Wednesday afternoon that his conviction review unit had examined the case of DuBoise and concluded that he likely is not guilty of the murder of Barbara Grams. Warren’s office plans to ask a judge tomorrow to free DuBoise. In the coming weeks, they will work to overturn his conviction.

DeSantis appointed this Federalist Society judge to replace suspended state Attorney” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Miami Herald — Standing on the stage with DeSantis was Warren’s appointed replacement, Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez, who was appointed to the bench by DeSantis in 2021. With Warren’s removal, Lopez will immediately begin as the state attorney. The Federalist Society is a conservative legal organization that advocates for textualism, a favored legal philosophy of DeSantis. When Lopez and others were appointed judges in December, all were part of the Federalist Society.

Warren learns the cost of defying DeSantis” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Warren has routinely displayed an independent streak since becoming Tampa’s 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney in 2016. DeSantis suffers no dissent, especially in an election year, and there are consequences for anyone who forgets that. Warren found that out emphatically Thursday when DeSantis announced he was suspending Warren from office for “neglect of duty.” “The 15-week ban, which criminalizes in certain circumstances, private medical decisions made between a woman and her doctor does not protect public safety,” Warren said in late June. Warren had to know he was in DeSantis’ crosshairs. Given DeSantis’ “my way or else” stance, Warren probably could have started cleaning out his desk then.

Assignment editors — Fried will hold a news conference to react to DeSantis’ suspending State Attorney Warren, 9 a.m., 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, 800 E. Twiggs. St., Tampa.

— 2022 —

As rents increase, so do big buck donations to DeSantis from the real estate industry” via Giselle Balido of The American — Since DeSantis took office in 2019, rents in the Sunshine State have increased by 40% compared to 25% nationally, according to data from Apartment List. In fact, Florida ranks No. 1 in the U.S. in housing unaffordability, with 56.5% of renters spending 30% or more of their income on housing. Yet, as property values and rents continue to rise and become prohibitively high, those self-identifying as employed in occupations of real estate, developer, homebuilder, Realtor, or property manager/management have added to DeSantis’ campaign coffers, which at this time stand at a whopping $96 million cash on hand for his re-election bid. Twenty-eight percent of donations have come from developers, and 6% of donations have come from Realtors.

Are higher rents moving into Ron DeSantis’ coffers?

Nikki Fried blasts DeSantis for ‘perverted’ lies about school lunch funding” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Fried denounced the “deranged” DeSantis for “lies” about the federal school lunch program. This came a day after DeSantis claimed the Joe Biden administration sought to “take lunch money from poor kids” at a news conference in Brevard County. “Gov. DeSantis is the deranged one for using hungry kids in this political stunt. He is lying. Period,” Fried claimed. “The National School Lunch Program has nothing to do with bathrooms, locker rooms or sports. Our department passed on nondiscrimination guidelines from the federal government — which only apply to the lunch line — saying that children can’t be discriminated against by being denied meals at school. That’s it. Nothing else. If he really cared so much about feeding kids, he would have applied for available federal supplemental child nutrition funding — which I’ve been calling on him to do for months. Now that’s deranged.”

Poll: Charlie Crist maintains dominating lead over Fried in Democratic Primary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Crist maintains a massive lead over Fried weeks ahead of the Democratic Primary for Governor, a new poll shows. Almost 56% of likely Democratic Primary voters say they intend to support Crist in the race, compared to just over 24% backing Fried. “I could not be more grateful for the support our campaign has received from all corners of the state in our fight to beat Ron DeSantis and bring the sunshine back to the Sunshine State,” Crist said in a statement after the poll was published.

Crist ad highlights Fried’s ‘troubling’ history — Crist’s gubernatorial campaign is running a new ad highlighting Fried’s “questionable personal and professional relationships with Florida Republicans like Ashley Moody, Manny Diaz Jr., and accused sex trafficker Matt Gaetz, while lining her pockets as a registered lobbyist for Big Tobacco and insurance companies.” Crist’s campaign notes that its attack ad comes after Fried’s campaign spent more than $1 million on ads attacking Crist’s record ahead of the Democratic Primary. “Voters deserve to understand the choice in this Primary — to nominate a trusted and tested leader who has spent the last decade fighting for Democratic values, or a former corporate lobbyist who has donated to and helped elect Republicans — yet claims to be a ‘lifelong Democrat’,” said Crist campaign representative Samantha Ramirez.

Tweet, tweet:

Will fight over property insurance roil Governor’s race?” via Justin Papp of Roll Call — Florida’s long-simmering property insurance crisis is reaching a boiling point ahead of a closely watched gubernatorial race that could test the mettle of DeSantis. In recent weeks he has faced attacks from Democratic challengers, who have sought to persuade Primary voters that the incumbent is responsible for the state’s failing property insurance market. “Florida is facing a property insurance crisis and Gov. DeSantis has ignored it,” Crist said. DeSantis, meanwhile, has touted his role in passing legislation in a May Special Session that he dubbed the “most significant reforms to the Florida property insurance market in a generation.”

Assignment editors — Crist will take part in meet & greet events in Tampa: 5:30 p.m., Hillsborough County Teachers Association Meet and Greet; 7 p.m., Hillsborough Young Democrats Meet and Greet. Locations upon RSVP at [email protected]

Val Demings’ ad brings in more cops to attest to her commitment to police” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s ongoing efforts to try to devalue Demings’ 27-year police career has at least gotten the attention of Demings’ campaign. The former Orlando Police Chief’s U.S. Senate campaign released another new commercial rebutting Rubio’s insinuations she’s not really a cop’s cop. The new ad again challenges the Rubio campaign’s false claim she once expressed support for the 2020 “defund the police movement.” In Demings’ new 30-second digital ad “Seriously, Marco?” a handful of current and retired law enforcement officers who had worked with Demings, including current Orange County Sheriff John Mina, bear witness for her.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

RSLC backs Wilton Simpson with $300K ad buy — The Republican State Leadership Committee has made a $300,000 statewide ad buy in support of Simpson’s campaign for Agriculture Commissioner. RSLC said the buy includes cable TV and radio and will be the RSLC’s first independent expenditures in the state this election cycle. The ad features a lot of bleeps — the theme is Simpson “isn’t afraid of sh*t,” be it from chickens or politicians. “As a lifelong farmer and legislative juggernaut, Wilton Simpson has a proven track record that has him ready to be Florida’s next Agriculture Commissioner,” said RSLC President Dee Duncan. “ … The RSLC is all-in for Wilton this year and we look forward to continuing to support him as he flips this seat from blue to red in November.”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

— 2022: CONG —

Matt Gaetz spends $22K on TV ads in CD 1 — U.S. Rep. Gaetz’s re-election campaign placed a $21,670 buy for broadcast ads airing Friday through Tuesday in the Mobile media market. Gaetz, a Republican, is running for another term in Florida’s 1st Congressional District. He faces a credible challenger, Mark Lombardo, in the Republican Primary. The August winner is expected to easily win the General Election in the overwhelmingly Republican district.

Kat Cammack makes $23K TV buy in CD 3 — U.S. Rep. Cammack’s re-election campaign made a $23,360 media buy in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. According to AdImpact, the buy will cover broadcast ads that will air Aug. 8-15 within the Jacksonville and Tallahassee media markets. Cammack, currently in her first term, faces nominal opposition in the Republican Primary. Two Democrats are also running for the seat, though the district is expected to perform Republican in the General Election.

Kat Cammack hits the airwaves.

Maxwell Frost continues to add union endorsements in CD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Frost continues to round up labor backing for his run in Florida’s 10th Congressional District, announcing endorsements from the AFL-CIO and several other unions. Frost’s latest list also includes endorsements from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, National Nurses United, Florida Education Association and the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association. Frost, of Orlando, is in a crowded Democratic Primary Election battle with a state Senator, two former members of Congress, a teacher, a preacher and four other candidates, but is sweeping labor support so far.

Kevin Hayslett tags Anna Paulina Luna as a ‘RINO’ in latest TV ad” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Hayslett’s campaign has released a second television ad ahead of the Republican Primary for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The ad, titled “That’s the Choice,” slams Hayslett’s top opponent, Luna. While highlighting Hayslett’s experience as a prosecutor, the ad heavily criticizes Luna, calling her a “RINO” and repeatedly playing an old clip of Luna where she says she agreed with Barack Obama-era immigration policy. “I always agreed with President Obama’s immigration policies,” Luna says in the brief clip.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

—”Three more Miami-Dade County unions endorse Annette Taddeo for Congress” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

— MORE 2022 —

Loranne Ausley hits the road in first ad for re-election bid” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Sen. Ausley is taking voters on the road with her as she drives across the rural Panhandle in “Listening,” her first ad for re-election in the 13-county Senate District 3. “You know, when it’s three hours from one end of your Senate District to the other, you spend a lot of time in the car and out listening to voters,” Ausley said while behind the wheel, “and I take those concerns to our state Capitol in Tallahassee.” She makes her pitch directly to the camera: “I’m state Senator Loranne Ausley and there’s no distance I won’t travel for you.” Ausley, who has no Democratic challengers, will face Republican Corey Simon.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

District 15 Republicans face off in Nassau County and west and north Duval” via Matt Soergel of The Florida Times-Union — Two Republicans are running for state representative in newly drawn House District 15, which sprawls across all of Nassau County and much of northern and western Duval County. In the Aug. 23 Republican Primary, political newcomer Emily Nunez faces off against Dean Black, Chair of the Republican Party of Duval County. They’re each running as staunch supporters of Donald Trump and each espouses his repeatedly discredited claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” against him. Both say Biden is not the legitimate president.

House District 41 candidates spar on affordable housing at NAACP forum” via Desiree Stennett of the Orlando Sentinel — Five candidates vying to become the next state House representative for District 41 gathered at Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in west Orlando for the first of two “Vote Your Voice” forums meant to inform Black voters ahead of the Aug. 23 Primary. District 41 covers several predominantly Black neighborhoods including Parramore, Washington Shores, Carver Shores, Orlo Vista and Oak Ridge. “It is about state and local and county elections,” said Fran Eddings, who moderated the panel discussion for the forum hosted by the Orange County NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Orange County. “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice.”

Direct mail round-up: New ad blasts Berny Jacques over his ‘leftist day job’” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A new ad hitting mailboxes in Pinellas County-based House District 59 is asking voters to call up Jacques, misspelled as “Jacues” on the mailer, and “demand he come clean about his leftist day job.” The direct-mail ad lists no phone number to call. It does, however, make many accusations about Jacques’ political beliefs. “Berny Jacques, bankrolled by $50 million in your tax dollars, promotes transgender awareness, Black Lives Matter politics, and critical race theory to our children,” the addressed side of the mailer reads.

Happening Monday:

—STATEWIDE —

Stop WOKE law hurts businesses like ours. That’s why we’re suing DeSantis” via Sara Margulis and Antonio McBroom for the Miami Herald — We watched in disbelief as DeSantis announced a war on so-called “corporate wokeness” and Florida House Bill 7, the Stop WOKE Act, sailed through the Legislature. While governments may patrol private business conversations in other countries, we assumed censorship was for far-away dictators who outlaw disfavored words and ideas, not the free state of Florida, not the United States of America. We were wrong. Providing wedding technology or scoops of ice cream is what we do best. We’ve joined together to do what entrepreneurs have always done: make things better. It’s why we, along with a third Florida-based entrepreneur, have filed suit against the Governor and other state officials.

Ron DeSantis’ attack on ‘wokeness’ leaves collateral damage.

Advocates plan to rally at state medical board meeting in support gender-affirming care” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A coalition of gay, queer and transgender friendly groups plan to attend a state medical board meeting in Fort Lauderdale Friday to protest attempts by the DeSantis administration to deny gender-affirming health care for people under the age of 18. Members of the SAVE Action PAC are working with Equality Florida and PRISM, among others, to rally their members to attend the Florida Board of Medicine meeting to “push back against Gov. DeSantis’ assault on transgender Floridians.” Florida Department of Health (DOH) General Counsel John Wilson submitted a petition to initiate rule-making.

DeSantis is attacking trans rights to gain power” via Chrissy Stroop of Open Democracy — Trans people are now the primary target for political persecution in the Sunshine State, just as November’s midterm elections loom. This is a development that Dr. Michael Haller, a medical school professor and head of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Florida, views with concern. He describes DeSantis as “willing to use whatever tools he needs to maintain power, even if it means trying to utilize policies that are not in the best interests of people he represents.” For Floridians and other Americans concerned about the rights and welfare of marginalized people, that’s a worrying prospect.

Fried slams DeSantis’ actions on property insurance crisis” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Fried is calling on DeSantis to do more to stabilize Florida’s troubled property insurance market. Fried, a Democrat running for her party’s nomination to replace DeSantis, wrote to DeSantis on Thursday slamming his approach to the crisis so far and calling on him to allow more flexibility in the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, or Cat Fund. “The Florida Legislature’s attempt at a band-aid fix to a massive wound, coupled with what appears to be the state’s wait-and-see approach, are all too little, too late,” Fried wrote. Florida’s property insurance industry has seen $1.5 billion in losses in the last two years, four companies have gone insolvent and several more have either canceled policies or stopped writing new business.

Florida hasn’t addressed 87% of task force recommendations to combat algal blooms” via Max Chesnes of Treasure Coast Newspapers — It’s been almost three years since a Governor-appointed task force of water quality experts made their recommendations for combating harmful algal blooms. Still, 87% of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force’s suggestions haven’t been fully adopted, either with new laws or any meaningful regulatory action from state government agencies, according to a report from a coalition of 12 Florida environment groups. “Ecological conditions in Florida have not improved and, in many cases, they have worsened,” the coalition wrote in its report released Wednesday.

Gambling regulators nix Orlando Jai Alai’s attempt to add 40 performances” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Orlando Jai Alai won’t be able to hold 40 jai alai performances this year after Florida gambling regulators rejected the pari-mutuel’s petition to alter its annual license. The Florida Gaming Control Commission voted unanimously Thursday to turn down the proposal, with Commissioners concluding state law doesn’t allow them to add jai alai performances once an annual schedule of games is approved in December or January. Orlando Jai Alai’s annual license renewal application outlined no jai alai performances.

Orlando Jai Alai gets a hard no on extra matches.

State scraps four proposed turnpike corridors” via Michael D. Bates of the Citrus County Chronicle — The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has abandoned the four corridors it was considering for a northern turnpike extension and is looking at different options, state Rep. Ralph Massullo told the Chronicle late Wednesday. Instead, FDOT will look at making improvements along Interstate 75 and possibly other corridors to relieve traffic congestion. Massullo said he spoke with the FDOT district secretary about the issue and the agency may make it public as early as Friday.

Assignment editors — Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Fiona McFarland will hold a joint news conference to give CASL/Renaissance Manor a check for $1.5 million to continue helping homeless people stay off the streets and improve their quality of life, 9 a.m., 2911 Fruitville Road, Sarasota.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Christopher Wray: Allegations ‘troubling’ about FBI agent covering up Hunter Biden information” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — FBI Director Wray said on Thursday that allegations of an FBI agent’s partisan social media posts and efforts to suppress information in the investigation into Hunter Biden’s business activities were “deeply troubling.” Speaking at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, Wray appeared to condemn the alleged actions of Timothy Thibault, who he said was an FBI assistant special agent in charge at the Washington field office until “relatively recently.” Sen. John Kennedy, who pursued the line of questioning with Wray, said that Thibault, who had been at the FBI for more than 25 years, is now on leave.

Jon Stewart ripped Rick Scott’s hypocrisy, and it worked. Too bad that’s what it took” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Stewart’s fury toward Sen. Scott was palpable and deserved. Last week, Republican senators, in apparent retaliation against Democrats for reaching a deal on an unrelated massive climate and economic bill, flipped their votes and blocked passage of legislation to help veterans exposed to toxins from burn pits during military service, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were 25 Republican senators who changed sides on the PACT Act, Scott among them. All of them had voted for the same bill the previous month. And they changed sides less than an hour after the Democratic deal on climate and taxes was announced.

Jon Stewart rips Rick Scott a new one — it worked.

Byron Donalds, one of two Black House Republicans, is weighing a future run for conference Chair. His entry could drastically shake up any race.” via Olivia Beavers of POLITICO — Rep. Donalds, one of the two Black Republicans serving in the House, is speaking with colleagues, including GOP leadership, about running for conference Chair next Congress. “Several members have approached the Congressman with the idea of him running for the position and, at the appropriate time, we will explore a potential path forward,” Donalds’ spokesperson Harrison Fields said. Donalds has the potential to completely shake up the conference Chair race. Donalds would, for now, be the only member of color running for a leadership role, as the party tries to make greater inroads among women and minority groups.

— JAN. 6 —

Man accused of leaving loaded gun on Capitol grounds during Jan. 6 riot” via Rachel Weiner of The Washington Post — A Missouri man left a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic pistol on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Jerod Thomas Bargar was arrested Wednesday; he is one of a small group of people accused of illegally carrying guns during the riot that forced a delay in certifying the results of the 2020 election. Lawmakers investigating the attack revealed recently that Trump knew some members of the crowd were armed and said they should be let through security regardless. Only four other people have been charged with taking guns onto the Capitol grounds that day.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Donald Trump is losing ground in the 2024 Primary. Here’s why.” via David Byler of The Washington Post — Trump leads in Primary polls and is well-liked by his party, but his position is worse than it was a year ago. Surveys show half of Republican voters are considering other candidates. Candidates endorsed by Trump have lost in Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, North and South Carolina. And DeSantis is gaining ground in Primary polls, emerging as a plausible challenger for the nomination. Trump used to take positions that helped him stand out from other leading Republicans. But he hasn’t done that for the 2024 Primary.

Is Donald Trump losing his grip? Image via AP.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

State rests case against Parkland killer. Jurors make difficult tour of haunting crime scene” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — A stuffed white teddy bear, dirty and discarded on the stairwell floor. Outside room 1215, dried blood stained the floor where three students were fatally shot. Inside room 1214, where students learned about the history of the Holocaust, bullet holes pockmarked desks, and laptops, headphones and water bottles remain frozen in time. These are among the sights seen by jurors who visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High to witness the scene of Florida’s deadliest school shooting. After the jury visit, Broward County prosecutors officially rested their case Thursday against confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz.

Jurors tour the still-horrific crime scene. Image via AP.

Border Patrol responds to more than six separate landings in the Keys Thursday” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — The U.S. Border Patrol said it responded to more than six migrant landings in the Florida Keys Thursday. The Keys and South Florida are experiencing an influx in migrants from both Cuba and Haiti, but that many migrant arrivals in one day is unusual. The landings happened in various parts of the island chain, said Adam Hoffner, division chief for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Miami operations. All the migrants are Cuban, he said. Not counting the latest groups of migrants, more than 60 people from Cuba have arrived in the Keys since last Saturday.

Suspect in road rage shooting in Boynton Beach is ex-DEA” via Gary Detman of CBS 12 — The man accused of shooting another driver in a road rage encounter is a former special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Bradley Jay Sosnowsky faces charges of aggravated battery with a firearm and discharging a firearm from a vehicle. The charges stem from an altercation on Monday that began as road rage on I-95 and ended in gunfire on W. Boynton Beach Boulevard near N. Congress Avenue. Sosnowsky told police he fired in self-defense, but video from his own dashboard camera, surveillance video from a nearby store, and video from the red-light camera all told a different story, investigators said.

Police department worker gets 60 days for COVID-19 relief fraud” via The Associated Press — A former civilian employee for a South Florida police department has been sentenced to 60 days in federal prison for stealing over $117,000 in COVID-19 relief funds. Elisa Rivera was sentenced Wednesday in Miami federal court. She pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Rivera authorized a co-conspirator to electronically submit an Economic Injury Disaster Loan application to the Small Business Administration. The application falsely stated that Rivera owned a business that had gross revenues of $325,446 and 12 employees in the 12 months before Jan. 31, 2020, prosecutors said. Rivera received $71,300 from the SBA in loans and grants.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Incumbent Orange County District 2 Commissioner Christine Moore calls rent control ‘false hope;’ challenger says give it a try” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Commissioner Moore and challenger Sandra Fatmi-Hall differ on a proposed rent-stabilization ordinance, a measure intended to restrict some landlords from raising their tenants’ rent higher than 5% over a year’s time. Moore, seeking a second term, called the ordinance “false hope” for those struggling to pay rising rents. “I favor looking at a whole host of other remedies,” she said, predicting court challenges or the Florida Legislature foiling the measure.

Christine Moore is concerned that rent control gives ‘false hope.’

City of Orlando car blocked driveway of abortion clinic; driver ‘harassed’ volunteers, complaint alleges” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando officials are investigating a complaint that an employee parked a city-owned vehicle, blocking the driveway of an abortion clinic and, when asked, wouldn’t move it. The complaint states a Nissan Leaf with “orlando.gov” printed on the rear bumper blocked access to the Orlando Women’s Health Center, which offers abortion care. When volunteers who escort women into the center asked the driver to move the vehicle, the driver “harassed” them, the complaint reads. This was at least the second encounter the driver had with volunteers at the clinic on Lucerne Terrace in the SODO area. A week prior, on July 23, the driver also blocked the driveway and refused to move it “blocking a doctor from entering the facility,” it states.

Tampa’s proposed budget nears $1.9 billion” via Milla Surjadi of the Tampa Bay Times — Mayor Jane Castor and city officials presented a nearly $1.9 billion budget to City Council members on Thursday, emphasizing affordable housing as the top priority. The mayor’s budget would set aside $25.5 million for housing assistance. But some council members suggested there will be further discussions about the proposed allocation, which one resident described as a “slap in the face.” “I wanted more money,” council member Lynn Hurtak said. “With regards to the present storm that others have mentioned — affordable housing — it’s good to see funds in that,” council member Luis Viera said.

Tampa General Hospital named America’s best employer for women” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Forbes released its annual rankings for America’s Best Employers for Women and Tampa General Hospital secured the No. 1 spot in the nation. The academic medical center jumped 12 spots from its 2021 ranking due to its excellence in leadership, diversity and top women performers. “This recognition showcases our commitment by highlighting the support we specifically provide to women,” said TGH President and CEO John Couris. Women comprise 50% of corporate suite executives and 70% of the senior vice president team. The academic medical center supplies pathways for its team members to grow within TGH and hone their leadership skills.

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

COVID-19 concerns drive conservative effort to win seats on Sarasota Hospital Board” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Dr. Joseph Chirillo’s COVID-19 views put him at odds with many in the medical community. Chirillo used ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to treat his COVID-19 patients, drugs that have received a lot of publicity in conservative circles but have generated warnings from the FDA. The doctor also believes “masks are ineffective,” and felt strongly enough that he signed a stack of blank opt-out forms to give to parents when Sarasota County schools mandated masks at the beginning of the last school year.

Judge clears way for a new hospice in Southwest Florida” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Residents in Glades, Hendry and Lee counties will have more than one hospice provider to choose from thanks to a new court ruling. A state administrative judge issued a pair of rulings this week that, in tandem, clear the way for VITAS Healthcare to open a new hospice in Southwest Florida in the coming year. Hope Hospice and Community Services Inc. tried unsuccessfully on two fronts to stop VITAS Healthcare Corporation from opening a hospice program in the tri-county area.

— MORE LOCAL: N. FLORIDA —

Women’s group endorses slate of Tallahassee candidates” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Several Tallahassee candidates are among dozens of Democrats the Florida National Organization for Women political committee is endorsing. The group is backing Marie Rattigan for House District 8, Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier for Mayor, Adner Marcelin for City Commission Seat 5, City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow for Seat 3, Leon County Commissioner Rick Minor and County Commission candidates Josh Johnson and David O’Keefe. “I am deeply grateful for the incredible work that the members of the Florida NOW PAC do, and I look forward to working with them to advance women’s rights from the Mayor’s office,” Dozier said.

Kristin Dozier snags a top-of-ticket NOW endorsement.

Tallahassee Democrat wins top journalism prize for fourth consecutive year for COVID-19, crime coverage” via the Tallahassee Democrat — For the fourth consecutive year, the Tallahassee Democrat is taking home the top journalism award from the Florida Society of News Editors, the Gold Medal, for a project on the intersection of poverty and youth violence and a heart-wrenching look inside the hospital’s COVID-19 ward. The Democrat also swept the top five categories in its division with first places in Breaking News Reporting, Enterprise Stories, Investigative Reporting, Community Leadership and Features Writing.

Jacksonville activist Ben Frazier to protest Florida’s ‘anti-riot’ bill before United Nations in Geneva” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — A vocal civil rights activist for better police and COVID-19 policies for Black citizens and against Confederate monuments in Jacksonville is headed to Geneva to address the United Nations Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination. Frazier Jr., the founder of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, said he will specifically speak out against DeSantis’ controversial “anti-riot” law Tuesday at the invitation of the international body. Frazier Jr. has been a frequent and vocal critic at government meetings as well as rallies on racial equality and was even arrested when he tried to attend one of the Governor’s news conferences in a state building.

Ben Frazier is taking Florida’s ‘anti-riot’ bill to the U.N..

Commissioner Doug Underhill faces censure, reprimand and $5K fine, but not removal” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Escambia County Commissioner Underhill violated three counts of Florida ethics law in failing to disclose contributions to his legal defense fund and should face a public censure, reprimand and $5,000 fine, an administrative law judge ruled Thursday. In his recommended order, Administrative Law Judge Garnett Chisenhall found Underhill guilty of three of the seven violations brought forward by attorneys for the Florida Commission on Ethics. Chisenhall recommended the Ethics Commission publicly censure and reprimand Underhill, as well as impose a $5,000 fine.

Florida woman’s lawsuit says Equifax error made loan pricier” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — A Florida woman has sued Equifax claiming she was denied a car loan because of a 130-point mistake in her credit report that she says was part of a larger group of credit score errors the ratings agency made this spring due to a coding problem. The class-action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Atlanta on behalf of Nydia Jenkins and potentially millions of others who applied for credit during a three-week period earlier this year. The Jacksonville, Florida woman was forced to accept another, less favorable loan that was $150 per month more than the one she was turned down for because of the error.

— TOP OPINION —

Removing Warren is Gov. DeSantis’ political broadside against an outspoken Democrat” via Michael McAuliffe for the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis just issued an executive order suspending — effectively firing — the elected Hillsborough County state attorney, Warren, because Warren signed a letter that espouses the view that prosecuting women who seek or secure an abortion under prohibited circumstances in Florida isn’t a good idea.

The Governor’s order, cloaked in long-form legalese, is a political broadside against an outspoken Democratic prosecutor. DeSantis chose the most aggressive and public manner to address Warren’s statement of intent not to prosecute women who seek an abortion in Florida. Instead of waiting for a specific case to arise, the governor simply removed a sitting (and duly elected) state attorney from office and replaced him with someone the Governor preferred.

The voters weren’t consulted.

Simply, state abortion laws don’t necessarily reflect the voters’ will and the feds aren’t out of the abortion issue. Dobbs attempted to redraw the abortion issue along imaginary state borders. However, the cultural divide rarely has been wider or more real. And a woman’s journey never less certain.

— OPINIONS —

The Kansas abortion message” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — The press corps is making a big deal of the defeat of the Kansas abortion referendum on Tuesday, and for once they’re right. The 20-or-so point rout of the effort to strip abortion protections from the state constitution is a message to Republicans and the anti-abortion movement that a total ban isn’t popular even in a right-leaning state. The defeated amendment wouldn’t have imposed abortion restrictions. It would have overruled a 2019 ruling by the state Supreme Court that found a right to abortion in the Kansas constitution, a case of judicial law-writing in our view.

DeSantis: You’re not king of Florida” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — DeSantis’ suspension Thursday of Warren was politically craven, legally suspect, suspiciously timed and odorously soaked in autocracy, partisanship, and bad faith, in other words, completely in keeping with this Governor’s behavior. Warren should not have provided DeSantis a narrow opportunity to exploit. But that doesn’t excuse the Governor’s gross abuse of power, his contempt for Hillsborough voters, or his disregard for due process. DeSantis announced during a staged appearance in Tampa that he had suspended Warren for failing to prosecute certain crimes. The governor’s 10-page order is a political smear job, full of what-ifs and supposition that would be laughed out of court.

—”DeSantis shows his true colors: Tin-pot tyrant” via Charles P. Pierce of Esquire

New legislation would leave Floridians with fewer dollars and fewer cures” via Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — With the U.S. inflation rate at 9.1%, the highest in four decades, all Americans are feeling the pain of rising prices. Here in Florida, though, consumer dollars are losing value even faster. In June, prices in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area were up 10.6% from a year ago. In May, the latest month for which data are available, the inflation rate in Tampa was 11.3%, the highest of any city in the country at the time.

— WEEKEND TV —

ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Financial professional Celine Pastore from Simple Path Retirement, Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich and USF political science professor Dr. Susan MacManus.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion about school choice and different educational choices that parents have for Florida students, including public, private, charter, and virtual schooling. Joining Walker are Reps. Randy Fine and Susan Valdes; and Doug Tuthill, president, Step Up for Students.

Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Democratic gubernatorial candidates Fried and Crist to discuss the biggest issues impacting the state ahead of the August Primary.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Republican candidates Laura Loomer and Gavriel Soriano will discuss their campaigns in Florida’s 11th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Daniel Webster.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Pollster Steve Vancore and Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Agriculture Commissioner Fried, Jacksonville Sheriff candidates Lakesha Burton and Ken Jefferson.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

ULA Atlas V rocket lights up morning sky and Twitter with array of beautiful images” via Joe Mario Pedersen of the Orlando Sentinel — Floridians were treated to an aerial spectacle Thursday morning as the first of three rockets blasted off in the inkling glow of a young sunrise. Just before 6:30 a.m., the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket took off from Space Launch Complex 41, carrying a U.S. Space Force satellite. The rocket pierced through a colorful mosaic of blues, purples, pinks, and oranges stretching over Florida. Central Florida spectators wasted no time documenting the event with pictures uploaded to Twitter, remarking on the beautiful launch conditions.

A wondrous spectacle from any angle.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Sen. Ed Hooper, Rep. Tyler Sirios and Heather Barker.

___

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

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