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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.27.22


Good Wednesday morning. Here are a couple of items on my mind.

🦇🦇🦇 — Remember when everyone thought COVID-19 came from a Wuhan market? That’s so 2020. Oh, wait … According to a new paper written by researchers at Scripps, John’s Hopkins University, Georgetown University and other top-tier institutions, that early theory was probably right all along.

🔥🗑🔥 — Joe Biden’s about as popular as a trash can fire in a prison cell. If recent favorability numbers aren’t convincing, maybe a much-too-early Primary poll will be. According to a recent University of New Hampshire poll, three-quarters of Granite State residents don’t want him to run for re-election, and just 16% said the incumbent was their top pick for 2024 — putting him behind Pete Buttigieg.

🪆🪆🪆 — Democrats may control the levers of power in Washington, but that hasn’t stopped red states from taking a hard turn to the right on social issues. CNN’s Ronald Brownstein writes that conservative policy victories in GOP-led states have created “a nation within a nation,” and they’ve hobbled the federal government’s ability to respond.

🥊🥊🥊 — The battle lines are forming for a potential — some say inevitable — Ron DeSantis versus Donald Trump bout in the Sunshine State. Top Florida Republicans are split on whom to support, with some ready to replace the geriatric Trump with a fresh face and others hoping DeSantis remembers that when you play the game of thrones, you either win or become Scott Walker.

🚨🕵️🚨 — If you thought MAGA die-hards would give up on the election fraud narrative, think again. Some conservative activists aren’t worried about convincing the average American the election was stolen because they’re too busy recruiting county Sheriffs to their side. They’ve already convinced Michigan, Kansas, and Wisconsin sheriffs to launch investigations.

___

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has promoted Carolyn Johnson to vice president of Government Affairs.

In her new role, Johnson will manage the development and strategic implementation of the Florida Chamber’s annual legislative agenda — the Florida Business Agenda — and lead the Florida Chamber’s team of lobbyists.

She will also oversee the continued growth of many strategic initiatives led by the Florida Chamber’s Government Affairs department, including Autonomous Florida, the Consumer Protection Coalition, the Florida Chamber Litigation & Regulatory Reform Center, Florida Wins, the Florida Chamber Healthcare Partnership, the Florida Chamber Infrastructure Coalition and the Florida Chamber Small Business Council.

Congrats: Carolyn Johnson has been named the agenda point person for the Florida Chamber.

“Carolyn is known by policymakers and business leaders for her deep policy expertise, tenacity on behalf of our members, and unwavering commitment to free enterprise. I am certain in her new role, she will continue to be a strong advocate for Florida’s business community in the Capitol and around the state as we seek to grow and diversify our economy,” said Florida Chamber Executive Vice President of Government and Political Relations Frank Walker.

Johnson has been a part of the Florida Chamber team for the past nine Legislative Sessions. Before joining the Florida Chamber, she spent half a dozen years working as legislative staff and on statewide political campaigns.

“It’s been an honor to work with the Florida Chamber these past nine years, and I am thrilled to continue my service representing Florida’s business community in this new capacity,” Johnson said. “I look forward to working with the Florida Chamber Board of Directors, members, the Chamber team, and lawmakers as we advocate for the right policies to grow Florida into the 10th largest economy in the world.”

___

Americans for Prosperity-Florida announced this week that it’s promoting Chris Stranburg and Danny Martinez.

Stranburg will become Legislative Affairs Director and serve as AFP-FL’s primary contact for lawmakers, state legislative staff, state agency communications, and local policy issues.

Martinez has been bumped up to the director of External Affairs. In the new role, he will be the top contact for the organization’s political intel and strategy and help maintain relationships with coalition partners.

“Chris and Danny have played an integral part of the AFP-FL policy team for many years,” said state director Skylar Zander. “Their new roles will help ensure that our organization can continue to push for state policies that will help Floridians flourish and prosper. We are excited for their advancement and continued contributions toward success.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@POTUS: Leaders like Governor DeSantis, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Rick Scott are all opposed to banning assault weapons. And to me, it’s simple. If you can’t support banning weapons of war on America’s streets, you’re not on the side of police.

@MarcoRubio: I am asking for your prayers that @potus will come to Florida to campaign against me

@HillaryClinton: Many of the same Republicans who just voted against protecting birth control and celebrated when Roe was overturned also oppose paid family leave and efforts to make childcare affordable. This is not about supporting families — it’s about dragging women back in time.

Tweet, tweet:

@KevinCate: It’s exhausting reading about the same very few congresspeople who troll for attention and get it nonstop on this website. You don’t have to react to every single crap post or purposefully offensive soundbite they spew.

@Fineout: Always find it fascinating to read about “veto Sessions” held by other state legislatures where they schedule a time to consider veto overrides. Recollection is that only successful veto override in past 2 decades in FL was in 2010 when @CharlieCrist was about to leave office

@Scott_Maxwell: The Capitolist had screeds against the @MiamiHerald and @MaryEllenKlas. I even found one against me and @Carl_Hiaasen. The reality: Few regular Floridians see this stuff. It’s like a slam book for aggrieved and deep-pocketed insiders — the “Mean Girls” of Florida politics.

@Alex_Patton: I used to joke I thought the Capitolist was a wholly owned subsidiary of FPL & utilities … turns out it’s funny because it is true.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 2; MLB trade deadline — 5; The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 9; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 13; Early voting begins for Primaries — 17; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 21; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 22; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 25; 2022 Florida Primary — 26; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 33; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 35; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 35; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 37; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 43; 2022 Emmys — 47; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 50; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 71; Deadline to register for General Election — 75; 22-23 NHL season begins — 76; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 90; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 90; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 91; Early voting begins for General Election — 94; 2022 General Election — 104; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 107; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 109; FITCon 2022 begins — 113; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 113; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 117; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 117; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 118; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 126; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 126; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 142; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 205; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 223; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 240; 2023 Session Sine Die — 282; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 282; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 310; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 359; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 464; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 478; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 611; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 730; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 730; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 835; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,010.

— TOP STORY —

Migration to continue driving Florida’s growth as deaths outpace births, economists project” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida’s growth since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been driven by migration from other states, overcoming deflated immigration from overseas and the state’s negative “natural growth” — the difference between total births and deaths.

State economists expect that trend to continue in the coming years. The projections were increased by nearly 4,000 people per year over the previous estimate, made in December.

Overall, the Office of Economic and Demographic Research projects the population to grow by 352,301 in 2022, to 22,251,246 people, or 3,795 more than the December estimate. That’s a 1.61% growth rate.

They keep flocking to Florida.

But while the state is still expected to grow over the next five years, the rate is expected to decline. In 2023, economists predict a 1.47% increase, projected to slow to 1.16% by 2027.

“Natural increase is expected to remain negative throughout the forecast horizon as deaths continue to outpace births,” the economists’ summary states. “Overall, the forecast maintains the pattern that the (estimating) conference has long been expecting, with growth slowing modestly each year.”

The state’s negative natural growth rate is partly the reason for the slower growth. The state had 7,540 more deaths than births in the 2020 fiscal year, the first time Florida had a negative natural growth rate since at least 1950. In 2021 that grew to 42,690 more deaths than births before falling to 28,231 in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

— 2022 —

Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis jockey for position ahead of potential 2024 showdown” via Alex Leary of The Wall Street Journal — The current front-runners for the Republican Presidential nod are both in Florida. Whether Palm Beach or Tallahassee is more likely to produce the eventual winner might depend on if GOP voters here and around the country want an encore from the party’s most dominant voice or prefer to hand the stage to its fast-climbing star. Trump is very likely to run again in 2024, aides say, and he has said publicly that he is weighing whether he should announce before or after this November’s midterm elections. DeSantis has developed his own devout following and is one of the few potential 2024 contenders who hasn’t said he would defer to Trump, though several other high-profile candidates could end up challenging one or both men.

The main event for 2024?

What makes DeSantis scarier than Trump” via The Daily Beast — Is DeSantis going to run for President in 2024? If he is, New Abnormal co-hosts Andy Levy and Molly Jong-Fast think he’ll be a scarier candidate than Trump. They point to a recent lackluster speech the former President gave during an event run by conservative student activist organization Turning Point USA. “DeSantis won’t get up there and say, ‘We’re gonna punish transgender children.’ What he’ll do is get up there and say, ‘We believe in parents’ rights,’ and he’ll couch it in various ways because he’s smarter than Trump in that way.

Charlie Crist: DeSantis is Florida’s worst property insurance Governor” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Crist says DeSantis is in the pocket of the property insurance industry and is ignoring a looming market meltdown. The Democratic candidate for Governor called on DeSantis to allow any homeowner that loses coverage and can’t find alternative coverage to be eligible for the state’s last-resort property insurance agency, Citizens, at the same rate for the next 12 months. With the trickle of insurers beginning to go insolvent and a large batch of policy writers looking at a downgrade, potentially 1 million Floridians could lose their property insurance at the height of hurricane season. “Ron DeSantis has been the worst governor in Florida history on property insurance,” Crist said in a statement on Tuesday.

Crist, Nikki Fried drop more cash on TV ads — Crist’s campaign added $66,374 to its current broadcast flight, splitting the money across seven of the state’s 10 media markets. According to AdImpact, the recent flight is backed by $470,669 and includes Orlando, Tampa, Miami, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Ft. Myers media markets. Meanwhile, Fried’s campaign has thrown another $116,990 into its flight scheduled to run Aug. 15-22. The expansion comes a few days after her campaign reserved $624,220 in ad time for the final week of the Primary race. The additional money will air ads in the Tampa and Orlando markets.

Fried asks DeSantis to stand up to ‘Nazi ideology’” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix — Fried asked DeSantis to condemn the weekend’s hateful demonstrations in Tampa, saying in a letter that “given the level of criticism you have directed at me over policy differences, it is deeply concerning that you cannot muster even a tweet against a group that glorifies genocide while using your name.” She was referencing a “flag emblazoned with ‘DeSantis Country’ and an image of you.” Also, “the demonstration, held outside the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, included Nazi flags, swastika posters, and other antisemitic images, in addition to racial slurs directed at counter-protestors,” Fried, who is Jewish, wrote to DeSantis.

Why won’t DeSantis denounce his neo-Nazi supporters?” via Kat Bouza of Rolling Stone — Florida politicians and local Jewish leaders are demanding DeSantis condemn a group of neo-Nazis who congregated outside a Tampa convention center over the weekend, passing out antisemitic propaganda and displaying swastikas alongside flags that read “DeSantis Country.”

Why hasn’t Ron DeSantis called them out?

Democratic Disability Caucus backs Crist — The Democratic Disability Caucus of Florida has endorsed Crist in the Governor race. The caucus’ endorsement dropped on the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and follows the Crist campaign’s recent announcement of its “Accessibility for All” platform aimed at providing better care to Floridians with disabilities. “In a state with over 3 million individuals with disabilities and an equal number of caregivers, we need a governor who acknowledges there is no diversity, equality or inclusion without disability,” said caucus president Karen Clay. “Charlie Crist will be that Governor.”

—“Worm farmer battles egg farmer in GOP Agriculture Commissioner race” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel

— 2022: CONG —

Lincoln Project exposes Matt Gaetz’s ‘secret’ in new Panhandle TV ad buy” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The new buy leads off with a comment Gaetz made during the Turning Point Action Summit: That “the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions.” “Matt Gaetz is one of the biggest tools in Congress and a standout among the weirdest and most ridiculous members of the MAGA mutant parade,” said Rick Wilson, The Lincoln Project co-founder. “As we say in the South, that boy wasn’t raised right.” As expected, the balance of the ad twists the knife into Gaetz with a tribute to “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” where the ad uses the sitcom’s incidental music and its penchant for title tags. This “episode” is called “Matt has a secret.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

—“Gaetz accuses Mark Lombardo of being funded by The Lincoln Project in response to ad” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics

—”4 Republicans aim to take on Darren Soto in Congressional District 9” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel

Veterans initiative will fight to elect Laurel Lee in CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A group of veterans will go to battle for Lee in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. Retired Air Force Gen. Frank Moore, Lee’s father, will lead the charge. “If anyone knows Laurel’s heart and dedication to her country, I do,” said Moore, head of Veterans for Laurel. “She’s a born leader who is fully prepared to represent the people in District 15 and to serve us well in Congress. I know she’ll fight to make sure the voices of our service members and veterans are heard and heeded.” Moore retired as a two-star general in the U.S. Air Force. He and the Lee campaign worked over two weeks to enlist more than 50 veterans to the cause.

Carlos Giménez dominates CD 28 fundraising field with $217K raised in Q2” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Giménez left his challengers for Florida’s 28th Congressional District in the dust last quarter when he added $217,000 to his already sizable war chest through a blend of corporate, organizational and individual donations. He also spent $142,000, the majority of which covered consulting costs. By June 30, he had about $1.3 million remaining of the $1.8 million he’s raised this cycle. Roughly 100 people gave to Giménez in Q2. Several chipped in $5,800, the upper limit of what candidates can accept from individual donors, equal to $2,900 each for the Primary and General Elections.

Epilogue — “Anika Omphroy fined $2K for ‘reckless’ 2020 campaign reporting issues” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Rep. Omphroy is aspiring for higher office with a run for Congress, but a state Elections Commission order is fining her for unfinished business from her last Statehouse election. The two-term state Representative paid a $10,440 fee to run for Congress in Florida’s 20th Congressional District on June 15. But an order filed June 8 says she owes the Florida Elections Commission $2,000 for her “reckless” disregard for election reporting requirements for her 2020 election to represent what was then House District 95 in central Broward County. And that might not be the worst of it. A Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office spokesperson said there’s still an open investigation into Omphroy’s 2020 campaign finances.

— MORE 2022 —

Democratic women resort to personal attacks during Florida Senate campaign” Ian Margol of WPLG —The heated race for Florida Senate District 35 is getting nasty. Two Democratic women who agree on most issues are resorting to personal attacks as they campaign for votes in Broward County. State Sen. Lauren Book, the minority leader, and former Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief have both released ads assassinating each other’s character. In the latest attack ad, Sharief shows an old video of Book’s 2009 appearance on the show Platinum Wedding, alleging her celebration cost more than $1 million. The ad also accuses Book and her husband of paying themselves about $350,000 from their nonprofit. … Meanwhile, Book released an ad accusing Sharief of defrauding Medicaid twice. Nearly 10 years ago, the state found her home health care company overbilled Medicaid by hundreds of thousands of dollars two times. She ended up settling and paying nearly $700,000.

This time, it’s personal.

DeSantis endorses Kiyan Michael for HD 16 — DeSantis is endorsing Republican candidate Michael in the race for House District 16. “Kiyan Michael is an Angel Mom, military spouse & lifelong Jacksonville resident,” DeSantis said on Twitter. “Kiyan has stood with me in the fight against illegal immigration and will be a leader in the Florida House as we fight Biden’s open border policies. I am proud to endorse her candidacy for HD 16.” Michael is running against former Rep. Lake Ray and Chet Stokes in the GOP Primary, and DeSantis’ endorsement could potentially erase their lead — both had more than $200,000 on hand as of July 15, while Michael had less than $20,000.

House candidate Chet Stokes has active arrest warrant” via Ben Becker of Action News Jax — With four weeks until Florida’s Primary Elections, Action News Jax investigated a local politician’s background and found some questionable claims. Jacksonville Beach City Council member Stokes is running to represent the Beaches and parts of Duval County in the Florida House. “He’ll defend the Constitution,” said a Stokes commercial that adds he will “never compromise our shared values.” But we have a few questions about those shared values.

NFIB endorses Robert Brackett for HD 34 — The National Federation of Independent Business has endorsed Brackett’s bid for the Republican nomination in House District 34. Brackett said he was “honored to have the endorsement. “We need to keep our small, independent businesses strong, and that is why, as state Representative, I will fight for policies that will boost our economy and give Florida business owners the support they need to thrive,” he said. Brackett faces Karen Hiltz in the Republican Primary. Democrat Karen Greb is also running for the seat, which is open due to incumbent Rep. Erin Grall opting to run for Senate rather than seek re-election.

Ford O’Connell spends big, but Tiffany Esposito holds cash edge heading into August” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — O’Connell spent more than double the amount spent by Primary opponent Esposito in the open state House District 77 race. But the bulk of his expenditures has come out of pocket. The Fox Business personality, through July 15, dropped $115,395 on the race, most of that with Virginia-based The Lukens Company. After spending $63,182 with the company in June on media and advertising expenditures, O’Connell spent another $28,552 in the first half of July. Along the way, the Trump White House surrogate picked up the endorsement of Florida Family Action and of members of the Trump administration, including David Bossie and Tom Homan.

The money flies in the race between Ford O’Connell and Tiffany Esposito.

More than 25,000 Broward mail ballots are late getting sent to voters” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Some 25,000 mail ballots for the August primaries and nonpartisan elections in Broward County are late and haven’t yet gone in the mail. They’ve been intentionally held back, Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott said Tuesday, to ensure accuracy of addresses and ensure people don’t receive the wrong ballots.

— STATEWIDE —

>>>Gov. DeSantis will hold a press conference at Harpoon Harry’s Crab House in Tampa. 9:15 a.m.

Gov. DeSantis to Sheriffs: Florida distinguishes itself with law and order” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — It was a law and order kind of night in ChampionsGate, where Gov. Ron DeSantis told Florida’s Sheriffs that the Sunshine State is a source of inspiration for officers nationwide. The Republican Governor addressed Florida’s Sheriffs and supporters for the Florida Sheriffs Association Banquet, scheduled during its summer conference this week. Some communities are reversing course, returning to stronger public safety policies after “destructive” results in other states and communities, the Governor told attendees. “As long as I’m Governor, we’ll be standing with the folks who wear the uniform, we understand that public safety is paramount,” he said.
DeSantis’ Florida files complaint against bar that held lewd drag show for children” via Joel B. Pollak of Breitbart — The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation served a complaint Tuesday on the R House bar, located in the Wynwood area of Miami, after a video posted earlier this month by the “Libs of Tik Tok,” a Twitter account that brings notoriety to far-left activists, showed a drag queen with exposed breasts and a thong stuffed with money leading a little girl by the hand around a bar during a show. The DBPR complaint identifies the girl as appearing to be “between 3 and 5 years old.” The bar has 21 days to respond to the administrative complaint. If the bar is found to violate local laws and codes, it could then lose its liquor license, effectively putting it out of business.
Personnel note: Anna DeCerchio named DEP Chief of Staff” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeCerchio, Deputy Chief of Staff to DeSantis, has been named Chief of Staff to Shawn Hamilton, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. DeCerchio has worked in the Governor’s Office since he took office in January 2019 and previously worked for now-Speaker-designate Paul Renner’s campaign and legislative offices. “Anna has been integral to implementing Gov. DeSantis’ agenda since Day One of the administration. She is one of the administration’s top experts on environmental policy, and we are excited she will continue to drive our agenda going forward as the Chief of Staff at the Department of Environmental Protection,” DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske, said in a statement to Florida Politics.
Congrats to Anna DeCerchio, newly minted DEP Chief of Staff.

Ron DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw makes sure reporters feel the burn” via Paul Farhi of The Washington Post — When Florida Republicans held their annual conference last week, party leaders decided to bar a large swath of the press corps from the event. While the hosts declined to discuss their reasoning, one unelected official applauded it. “My message to [journalists] is to try crying about it,” tweeted Christina Pushaw, whose job as spokeswoman for Gov. DeSantis is to communicate with reporters. “Then go to kickboxing and have a margarita.” The derisive tone was typical of Pushaw, 31, a state employee who earns $120,000 a year.

Ray Rodrigues first to apply for state university chancellor — Republican Sen. Rodrigues, who is not running for re-election, was one of the first applicants to become the next state university system chancellor, Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reports. Rodrigues is the only applicant from Florida. Other candidates seeking the job are John Martin, a former dean at Dallas College, University of Delhi chemistry professor Ramesh Chandra and Charalabos “Haris” Doumanidis, the Marie Curie Chair of Excellence and deputy provost at the University College Dublin in Ireland. The search committee for the position will meet on Aug. 17 to discuss the applications to succeed exiting Chancellor Marshall Criser.

Dep’t of Ed. to require schools to tell parents if overnight field trip stays are ‘separated by biological sex’” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The Florida Department of Education is moving forward with a new regulation requiring school districts to adopt policies requiring parents to be notified about lodging details on overnight field trips. Specifically, “whether room assignments for overnight lodging will be separated by biological sex at birth.” The department published a proposed rule Monday that would install the requirement in field trip parental notification forms, along with other details, such as “the nature of the field trip, the dates and times, specific locations and types of establishments to be visited, modes of transportation and method of student supervision provided, such as anticipated number of chaperones.”

Lawsuit charges ‘parental rights’ measure violates federal laws” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A federal lawsuit filed in Orlando is seeking to stop the implementation of House Bill 1557, the “Parental Rights in Education” measure that critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The suit was filed by families of public-school children in Orange County and Indian River County, an openly gay Orange County high school student, and a coalition of LBTTQ+ community centers. The plaintiffs seek to have the law tossed for violating freedom of speech, depriving due process for families of gay children, and depriving equal justice under federal law.

State’s effort to find a new SunPass vendor crashes again. Company lacked experience” via Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald — When DeSantis’ Department of Transportation asked companies last year to bid on a multimillion-dollar contract to take over call centers for its SunPass tolling facilities, the agency had a key requirement: Bidders had to have at least 10 years of experience doing similar work. But the department later chose a company that hadn’t been in existence for even five years. In the latest questionable award for the state, a Tallahassee judge last week rejected the agency’s decision to give a potential $157 million contract to Emovis US, the winning bidder on a seven-year contract to take over tolling operations for the state’s turnpike authority.

Happening today — The Florida Gaming Control Commission meets, 9:30 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room.

Dark power: How FPL, other utilities neutralize opponents, grow profits” via the Orlando Sentinel — The CEO of the biggest power company in the U.S. had a problem. A Democratic state Senator was proposing a law that could cut into Florida Power & Light’s profits. Landlords would be able to sell cheap rooftop solar power directly to their tenants — bypassing FPL and their monopoly on electricity. “I want you to make his life a living hell….seriously,” FPL’s CEO Eric Silagy wrote in a 2019 email to two of his vice presidents about Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, who proposed the legislation.

Electricity rates in Florida are about to go up … again” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — FPL, Duke Energy and Tampa Electric all got new deals approved last year, allowing them to raise the prices they charge homeowners, small businesses and other customers. The first round of rate hikes in these new deals went into effect at the start of this year. But each of these deals also included a little-discussed provision that allows them to raise rates even further if interest rates rise beyond a certain point. Not long after these deals were approved, the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates to suppress inflation. So, FPL, TECO and Duke have already reached the trigger point. Under the terms of their deals, both TECO and Duke can ask the PSC to increase their ROEs by one-quarter of one percentage point.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Why Democrats’ Midterm chances don’t hinge on Joe Biden’s approval rating” via Nathaniel Rakich and Humera Lodhi of FiveThirtyEight — On one hand, Biden is historically unpopular. On the other, generic-congressional-ballot polls are pretty close. As of the same date and time, Republicans had an average lead of 1 point. Those two numbers feel difficult to reconcile. Biden’s approval rating suggests that the national mood is extremely poor for Democrats, while the generic-ballot polling suggests that the political environment is only slightly Republican-leaning. But, in reality, these two types of polls aren’t in opposition as much as you might think. They’re separate metrics, and a look back at past Midterm Elections shows they don’t always line up. But history also shows that when they diverge, one is more predictive than the other.

Democratic fortunes are not tied to Joe Biden’s popularity. Image via AP.

Biden considers new pause on paying back student loans, $10,000 relief” via Nancy Cook of Bloomberg — Biden is considering extending a pause on student loan repayments for several more months, as well as forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt per borrower, according to people familiar with the matter, as he seeks to appeal to young voters ahead of the November midterms. The current moratorium on student loan payments expires Aug. 31, and a fresh pause could extend either through the end of 2022 or until next summer, the people said. Biden told reporters last week that he hoped to decide on an extension by the end of August.

Jill Biden’s press secretary leaving White House” via Kate Bennett of CNN — Michael LaRosa, the Press Secretary for First Lady Dr. Biden, is departing the White House, a White House official told CNN. LaRosa began serving as Biden’s spokesperson in 2019 during the presidential campaign and was appointed Press Secretary in January 2021. In September, he was given the added title of special assistant to the President. “For nearly three years, from the campaign to the White House, Michael has brought an encyclopedic knowledge of politics and media to my team as my spokesperson and adviser,” the First Lady told CNN.

Republicans’ Senate campaign boss just admitted his candidates have a money problem” via Chris Cillizza of CNN — Scott is in charge of winning back the Senate majority for Republicans this November. And he’s worried. “Look, we have great candidates; we have every reason to believe we can win,” the Florida Senator said in a speech at the America First Policy Institute summit on Monday. “The issue we’ve got is we’ve got to raise money.” Scott, who runs the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, points to the vast fundraising deficit that some top-tier Republican candidates face less than four months before the Midterm Elections. Scott’s move is strategic. He is hoping to wake up Republican donors to the fact that they are facing a serious deficit in the money fight at the moment.

The wealthiest man in the Senate has money problems … or at least his candidates do.

‘Pick people you would hire’: Rick Scott likens down-ballot races to job interviews” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott is urging voters to see themselves as the ultimate hiring manager when selecting candidates. “How many people in the House or the Senate would you hire to work at your business? If you wouldn’t hire them, then why are you voting for them? It’s as simple as that,” Scott said. “Let’s start electing people we would hire,” Scott continued. “Because guess what? We’re giving them a lot of power over our lives.” Scott, the National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair for the 2022 cycle, extended his analysis from federal races to down-ballot battles on the local level.

The inside story of how John Roberts failed to save abortion rights” via Joan Biskupic of CNN — Roberts privately lobbied fellow conservatives to save the constitutional right to abortion down to the bitter end, but May’s unprecedented leak of a draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade made the effort all but impossible, multiple sources familiar with negotiations told CNN. It appears unlikely that Roberts’ best prospect, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, was ever close to switching his earlier vote, despite Roberts’ attempts that continued through the final weeks of the session. New details obtained by CNN provide insight into the high-stakes internal abortion-rights drama that intensified in late April when justices first learned the draft opinion would soon be published.

19-year-old turns Matt Gaetz insult into $115K abortion rights fundraiser” via Andrew Jeong of The Washington Post — Olivia Julianna, a 19-year-old abortion rights advocate, wrote Rep. Gaetz a tongue-in-cheek thank-you note on the platform. “Dear Matt, Although your intentions were hateful, your public shaming of my appearance has done nothing but benefit me,” she wrote after his tweet about her spurred a load of harassment — as well as a flood of donations to her reproductive rights advocacy organization. In just about a day, she’s helped raise approximately $115,000 for the nonprofit Gen Z for Change. Gaetz had mocked abortion rights activists, calling them “disgusting” and overweight.


— JAN. 6 —

Biden slams Trump for watching Jan. 6 riot as police faced ‘medieval hell’” via Amy B Wang of The Washington Post — Biden made rare comments Monday about testimony presented by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, sharply criticizing Trump for his reported inaction as the attack on the Capitol unfolded. In a prime-time hearing Thursday, the committee showed evidence that Trump resisted multiple pleas from senior aides to call off the mob attacking the Capitol in his name, even as members of the security detail for Vice President Mike Pence feared for their lives. Committee members said that Trump largely spent his time during the attack watching television. Biden referred to this Monday in virtual remarks to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives conference.

Joe Biden weighs in on the Jan. 6 hearings. Image via Newsweek.

Merrick Garland calls Justice Department’s Jan. 6 probe the ‘most wide-ranging investigation in its history’” via Ken Dilanian and Corky Siemaszko of NBC News — The Justice Department plans to prosecute anyone who was “criminally responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another,” Attorney General Garland said Tuesday, speaking more expansively than he has previously about a federal criminal investigation that appears to have moved far beyond the rioters who attacked the Capitol. Garland said that the televised hearings by the House Jan. 6 committee highlighted “the truth of what happened … and what a risk it meant for our democracy.” And he acknowledged that Justice Department investigators learned things from the congressional testimony.

D.C. man is second to receive longest sentence in Jan. 6 police assault” via Spencer S. Hsu of The Washington Post — A District man who assaulted three police officers and shattered a riot shield with a pole was sentenced to 63 months in prison Tuesday, matching the longest sentence handed down to a defendant convicted in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Mark K. Ponder admitted to fighting with police in video-recorded confrontations between 2:31 p.m. and 2:48 p.m. that day in the lower west terrace of the Capitol, which was overrun by a violent mob angered by Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. Ponder pleaded guilty on April 22 to one count of assaulting an officer using a dangerous weapon.

‘Kind of wild/creative’: Emails shed light on Trump fake electors plan” via Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater of The New York Times — Previously undisclosed emails provide an inside look at the increasingly desperate and often slapdash efforts by advisers to Trump to reverse his election defeat in the weeks before the Jan. 6 attack, including acknowledgments that a critical element of their plan was of dubious legality and lived up to its billing as “fake.” The dozens of emails among people connected to the Trump campaign, outside advisers and close associates of Trump show a particular focus on assembling lists of people who would claim, with no basis, to be Electoral College electors on his behalf in battleground states that he had lost.

State bar investigates two Georgia Trump electors” via David Wickert of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — The State Bar of Georgia is investigating two Republican lawyers who served as fake presidential electors for Trump. The bar association notified Brad Carver of Atlanta and Daryl R. Moody of Alpharetta on July 15 that it has referred complaints against them to the State Disciplinary Board. The complaints were filed in March by a nonprofit legal watchdog that said the attorneys violated professional conduct rules by falsely swearing to be Georgia’s official presidential electors in documents submitted to state and federal officials. The U.S. Justice Department and the House Jan. 6 committee also are investigating their actions.

House Dems berate campaign arm over ‘very dangerous’ GOP primary scheme” via Sarah Ferris and Ally Mutnick of POLITICO — House Democrats are seething at their own campaign arm for meddling in a GOP primary to promote a pro-Donald Trump election conspiracy theorist — after months of warning such candidates were a threat to democracy. Democratic members are aghast the committee is spending nearly half a million dollars to air ads boosting Donald Trump-endorsed John Gibbs over Rep. Peter Meijer, a Michigan Republican, who voted to impeach Trump last year. “No race is worth compromising your values in that way,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy,a Winter Park Democrat, who sits the Jan. 6 committee.

Jan. 6 defendant from Polk City wants new charge — a felony — dismissed” via Gary White of The Ledger — Joshua Doolin, a Polk City resident charged in connection with the U.S. Capitol Riot, is asking a judge to dismiss a recently added felony count and to limit testimony in his September trial. Allen H. Orenberg, Doolin’s lawyer wants U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols to remove the charge of obstructing, impeding or interfering with a law-enforcement officer, which was added in a new indictment filed July 13 against Doolin and four fellow defendants. Orenberg filed a second motion requesting the judge to block prosecutors from mentioning weapons, ammunition or body armor.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

Parkland killer said he wanted rifle to go shooting with friends, former gun shop owner tells jury” via Scott Travis and Rafael Olmeda of the Orlando Sentinel — Just before the Parkland killer picked up his brand-new Smith & Wesson M&P 15 semi-automatic rifle at a gun store in Sunrise, the seller asked him what he planned to do with it. “‘I go shooting with my friends on the weekend,” the young man replied. He was four months past his 18th birthday. The sale was legal and raised no suspicions. Nikolas Cruz paid $618.17 for the rifle. It was February 2017. A year later, he would use that rifle to kill 17 and injure 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14, 2018.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez still supports cryptocurrency despite major drop in value” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Suarez is still publicly promoting cryptocurrency following a crash in the price of Bitcoin that has led digital currency enthusiasts to discuss how to weather the downturn. The Mayor told the Miami Herald he still wants to make Miami a crypto capital. He said he is still converting 100% of his city salary into Bitcoin, though he declined to discuss his current cryptocurrency holdings. Recently released financial disclosures show that as of the end of 2021, he held a cryptocurrency account with $10,761.49. Suarez also said he still wants to use his position as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to sponsor a “crypto compact” that would promote digital currency and foster education about digital currency.

Francis Suarez doubles down on crypto.

Most of Matt Willhite’s donations for Palm Beach Commission campaign are from firefighters. Is that a problem?” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Browsing through the list of contributions to Wellington Rep. Willhite’s political committee, Floridians for Public Safety PC, a trend becomes clear that indicates his bid for the Palm Beach County Commission could enjoy less support than outwardly evident. Willhite raised roughly $585,000 since April when he filed to run to replace outgoing Palm Beach Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who must leave office this year due to term limits. Of that haul, $479,500 came through his PC, and roughly 76% of that portion came from firefighters and firefighter groups, including $350,000 alone from the Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County.

Inflation has pushed South Florida farmers to breaking point: ‘It’s pretty bleak’” via Ashley Dyer of CBS Miami — Farmers in South Florida are hurting like everyone else when it comes to the rising costs of inflation. “Does the consumer have enough money left over to pay a price for produce that will keep me sustainable? That’s the dilemma right now,” said longtime farmer John Alger, the owner of Alger Farms. Alger Farms has been operating since the 1930s. Alger said it’d been a struggle to break-even for the last 10 years, even before the pandemic, supply chain issues, and inflation. Now, he says farmers all over South Florida are reaching a breaking point. His three-generation farm, with fields of sweet corn and green beans, stretches for miles and supplies the entire east coast with its crops.

Florida Bulldog joins fight to unseal Everglades Foundation file” via The Backstory Blog — Another news outlet has joined the legal battle to fight the Everglades Foundation’s efforts to seal virtually all court records in its lawsuit against its former top scientist, Tom Van Lent. And — surprise, surprise — it ain’t a legacy newspaper. The Broward Bulldog, dba The Florida Bulldog, an independent, nonprofit watchdog news website, filed court papers on Friday to join efforts by another independent digital news outlet, The Capitolist, to unseal records in the Foundation’s lawsuit. The Bulldog’s two-page motion to intervene was filed by The Capitolist’s attorney Edward Birk, a former editor and reporter for The Associated Press who sits on the board of the First Amendment Foundation.

Stunning drone video shows lemon sharks, stingrays swimming near shore off Jupiter Island” via Jennifer Sangalang of Treasure Coast Newspapers — They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. What words would you use if you saw video of lemon sharks swimming close to shore? Florida photographer Paul Dabill told Storyful that he often sees sharks when he films in the Jupiter Island area, but the water being particularly “calm and clear” helped produce “stunning results” on a recent drone video. In a video posted online, coincidentally during Shark Week 2022, Dabill’s drone footage shows several lemon sharks swimming off the coast with a beachgoer or two nearby. The video also shows the sharks swimming near stingrays.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Orange Mayor Jerry Demings, Commissioner Emily Bonilla clash over rent control ordinance” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Demings and Bonilla clashed Tuesday over Bonilla’s alleged mistreatment of county staff whose draft of her proposed rent control ordinance included clauses that could exempt more apartments from rent caps. “I have a staff member who briefed me on some language that was used,” Demings told his fellow Democrat in the public meeting. “At the very least, it was disrespectful to the staff. As elected officials, we have a responsibility to treat our staff with dignity and respect. Do not mistreat them.” He said Bonilla should apologize for creating a hostile work environment. “I felt disrespected as well,” Bonilla said.

Jerry Demings and Emily Bonilla tussle over rent control.

Study: Tampa General Hospital Medical District packs a $8.3B economic punch” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — It’s been three years since Tampa General Hospital president and CEO John Couris declared “Tampa needs a medical district,” and this vision is not just becoming a reality, but it’s anticipated to have a significant economic impact on the region and the state as a whole, according to a preliminary study completed by The Washington Economics Group. The Tampa Medical and Research District (TMD) is expected to generate $8.3 billion in economic impact to Florida annually, supporting 57,900 jobs. Other findings include: TMD will create $2.8 billion in household income each year; the gross domestic product impact in the Tampa metro would be roughly $4 billion; federal, state and local revenues generated by the district would total roughly $800 million each year.

Florida man attempts to break into Space Force base to warn of alien-dragon space war” via Max Hauptman of Task & Purpose — Since the Space Force was established in 2019, there has been the lingering question of what, exactly, it does. One would certainly hope the branch would be heavily involved in a theoretical battle between aliens and dragons in space. The occurrence of which, apparently, one helpful citizen was trying to warn the Space Force about last week. At Patrick Space Force Base, Corey Johnson was arrested for attempting to enter the installation. The reason? According to what he told arresting officers, he was there on behalf of the President to alert the Space Force that there were “U.S. aliens fighting with Chinese dragons.”

— MORE LOCAL: N. FLORIDA —

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry budgets $500K to remove Confederate monuments, faces split Council” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Mayor Curry continues to press for the removal of a Confederate monument from Springfield Park by putting $500,000 into his proposed budget for taking down Confederate monuments in parks. Curry sought nearly $1.3 million last year for moving the “Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy” monument from Springfield Park. But the City Council withdrew that legislation in November and decided first to have a series of community conversations about Confederate monuments and markers.

Lenny Curry floats a monumental budget item. Image via Jacksonville Today.

Tallahassee, Leon County candidates drop consultant who posted offensive video” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Candidates for Tallahassee and Leon County offices parted ways with a consultant in the wake of her posting an offensive video on Facebook. Tina Reason was one of the campaign managers for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 3 candidate David Bellamy. She also had ties to the campaigns of Leon County Commission candidate Dustin Rivest and Leon County Commissioner Nick Maddox. The Facebook post included an eight-second clip of White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. The video was altered to show her wearing clown makeup. Bellamy quickly distanced himself from Reason in an issued statement.

JEA to suspend disconnections for six weeks” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — More than 16,300 people each month, on average, lose their utility service because they’re behind on their payments to JEA — that’s more than 10,700 prepay customers and more than 5,600 traditional customers over the service area. After working on the idea for a couple of weeks, JEA is providing some temporary help in August. “We’re focused on giving our customers flexibility and trying to drive down costs as much as we can,” JEA Managing Director and CEO Jay Stowe said.

Federal complaint claims ‘a living hell’ for immigrants inside ICE’s Baker County Detention Center” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — Calling it a facility full of “abhorrent conditions,” violent abuse, medical neglect and racial harassment, 16 civil rights groups have filed a federal complaint against the U.S. departments of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement about the Baker County detention center. The 102-page complaint, filed by groups ranging from the Americans for Immigrant Justice and Freedom for Immigrants to the Florida Policy Institute and Black Alliance for Just Immigration, was done on behalf of 15 people currently or formerly detained at the federally run facility at the Baker County Sheriff’s Office.

Nassau eyes 3% millage reduction, 11% more revenue as county grows” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — The standard of living in Nassau County is high, but with increased property values and spending comes increased revenue for the county government, which is looking at reducing its millage rate by 3% for the next fiscal year while pulling in more than 11% more cash. “This is a huge win-win for Nassau County and the taxpayers,” Nassau County Commission Chair Jeff Gray said after the Commissioners’ unanimous votes on the budget and tentative millage rate. It was a long day for Commissioners, who met at 3 p.m. for the first of two workshops, the first was on the area east of Interstate 95, generally known as Wildlight, and the second was on the budget before their hourslong regular meeting kicked off at 6 p.m.

— TOP OPINION —

If Democrats are losing the working class, it’s not because of the left” via Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Washington Post — The Democratic Party is losing support not just among White, but all non-college educated voters, trailing the GOP by 12 points. It is becoming the party of upscale urban and suburban voters, while Republicans are beginning to consolidate a multiracial coalition of working-class voters.

Why is this happening? A chorus of armchair pundits and centrist think tanks believe they know who’s to blame. Not Biden, not Democratic centrists, not the gerontocracy that runs the party in the House and Senate, nor the party establishment.

No, it’s all the fault of the left.

And if the problem, as the pundits argue, is that working-class voters feel looked down upon, nothing Black Lives Matter or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have done has been as poisonous as Hillary Clinton’s calling Trump voters “deplorables,” or Barack Obama’s disdain for those who “cling to guns or religion.”

The Democrats’ problem among the working class isn’t Black Lives Matter or pro-choice activists. It’s that this economy doesn’t work for working people. The rich capture the rewards of growth, while working people’s conditions grow less secure.

In the end, if our corrupted politics mean that Democrats can’t produce for working people, while Republicans continue to serve the corporations and the rich, the anger and fissures in America will fester and deepen. And the attraction of a strongman who will shake things up will only grow.

— OPINIONS —

Biden making a mistake relying on foreign oil. Keystone XL pipeline is a solution” via Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Giménez and Maria Elvira Salazar for the Miami Herald — The time has long passed for this administration to take the only action capable of lowering fuel prices for American families and ending reliance on China — unleash American energy production. The Keystone XL pipeline has the potential to deliver more than 830,000 barrels of crude oil to U.S. refineries every day. America’s energy and natural resources production is some of the cleanest, most efficient and innovative in the world. Unleashing American energy production would provide economic and energy security to American families and increase our competitive advantage over the rest of the world. Importing crude oil instead of producing clean oil domestically increases Co2 emissions.

Trump is plotting to blow up the Constitution” via Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg — The must-read reporting over the weekend was Jonathan Swan’s series at Axios exploring the efforts of Trump’s supporters and other Trump-friendly Republicans to prepare to staff a potential Trump second term. Swan describes efforts already underway for staffing a second Trump administration along with criteria for selecting personnel. Trump himself is described as obsessed with the 2020 election, and what he mainly cares about is finding people who affirm his false accounts of fraud; anyone unwilling to falsely claim that Trump won the election need not apply for any position. What Trump and his allies are attempting to do is likely to end either with the kinds of fiascos and failures that wound up with Trump being impeached twice or with his victory over the republic and the end of constitutional government.

What’s the downside for humoring him … Until he dies?” via Tim Miller of The Bulwark — We are all, by now, familiar with the most appalling, “boy did that age poorly” anonymous quote in the history of American politics, published by The Washington Post less than two months before the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol and the attempted assassination of the Vice President: “What’s the downside for humoring him?” they mused. This pearl of anti-wisdom has become a bumper sticker for Republican cowardice ever since it was published. It has been lambasted by political rivals, Twitter smartasses, and websites populated by Enemies of the People. despite how brutally and blatantly their strategy in managing Trump’s psychopathy failed, Senior Republican Officials (SROs) are still employing it.

Wake me up when Sean Hannity editorializes against Trump” via Erik Wemple of The Washington Post — The New York Post and the Wall Street Journal published scorching editorials against Trump in the aftermath of Thursday’s prime-time hearing of the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021. In the view of the Post, Trump has proved himself “unworthy” of returning to the presidency, and the Journal opined that he’d “utterly failed” the test posed by the Jan. 6 “crisis.” Under the ineffable laws of media distribution, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal can write editorials zinging Trump without causing much harm to their respective business models. The same doesn’t hold true for the opinion hours on Fox News. When Hannity starts blasting away at Trump, we’ll know something’s up.

—“Why Rupert Murdoch is finally done with Trump” via Jack Shafer of POLITICO

Congress should codify same-sex marriage” via Theodore B. Olson and Kenneth B. Mehlman of The Wall Street Journal — Congress should enact the Respect for Marriage Act. The Respect for Marriage Act has already been approved by a strong bipartisan majority in the House, and it should now be promptly passed by the Senate and sent to the President. The act would codify recognition of same-sex marriages in the U.S. at the federal, state and local levels. It’s unlikely that a subsequent Supreme Court decision would overturn Obergefell, but it would be foolhardy to take for granted that lower courts or future justices couldn’t adopt similar views as those expressed in Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurrence or attempt to weaken the rights that accompany civil marriage.

Toby Overdorf: Florida businesses, manufacturers need Congress to move quickly, decisively to provide semiconductors and microchips” via Florida Politics — While Florida gets things right, this is not always the case in Washington D.C. I encourage the Florida congressional delegation to follow the lead of the United States Senate and vote yes on the slimmed-down version of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act passed this week. The bill could send as much as $52 billion in chip subsidies and tax credits to increase competitiveness with China. The CHIPS Act makes significant investments in domestic semiconductor production. This legislation would bring down some rising consumer electronic costs. Additionally, the legislation will create well-paying manufacturing jobs and promote America’s global competitiveness. This is an opportunity for leaders in Congress to make a difference in the battle to address inflation.

Florida Power & Light dominated the state. Now scandal darkens its future” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Just a 14-minute drive from Florida Power & Light’s headquarters in Juno Beach is the easternmost point in the state, where the sun’s radiant light first cracks the night sky each morning. The warm light races across a 600-mile expanse of land and coast before finally brightening the Perdido River in Escambia County on Florida’s western border. In May 2018, FPL’s sprawling utility empire laid claim to both boundaries, reaching a pinnacle of power and influence rare even among the mega-corporations that call Florida home. Indeed, the company’s future looked bright.

Talk about ‘fake news.’ Records show FPL ties to online site that attacks Florida newspapers” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Have you ever read a “news” story from a source you didn’t recognize and thought: This reads more like a paid ad than a straight news piece? Well, there might be a reason for that. Records show a Tallahassee website that claims to offer “original reporting, analysis, and aggregated news” — and accused Florida newspapers of spreading “fake news,” was actually controlled by operatives working for Florida Power & Light. The Capitolist, a site run by Brian Burgess, a former spokesperson for Scott, has long written puff pieces about the private utility company and attacked legitimate news organizations that ruffled FPL’s feathers.

—“Tampa Bay Times releases recommendations for Hillsborough, Pinellas Co. Primaries” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ to be directed by ‘Shang-Chi’ filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton” via Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter — Since the climactic wrap-up of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, which closed a chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe known as The Infinity Saga and grossed almost $2.8 billion worldwide, Marvel Studios has focused on introducing new heroes and pushing ahead with sequels of some of its top characters. But as revealed by Kevin Feige at Marvel’s Saturday presentation at San Diego Comic-Con, the Avengers are assembling again, with two back-to-back movies set for 2025. And while many other movies will hit before that, the studio is already moving ahead creatively with at least one of the superteam tentpoles.

Marvel is tapping Destin Daniel Cretton to direct the next Avengers entry.

One of America’s best chefs is opening a second South Florida restaurant in Coral Gables” via Carlos Frías of the Miami Herald — Thomas Keller, one of the best chefs in America, is doubling down on Miami. After opening a high-end restaurant in Surfside, the Surf Club Restaurant, Keller is opening one of his French bistros, Bouchon, in a historic building in Coral Gables in early 2023, he said. Bouchon, located in Las Vegas and near his three Michelin star restaurant The French Laundry in Yountville, focuses on classic French dishes with seasonal ingredients and a raw bar. The restaurant is set to open in the nearly 100-year-old refurbished La Palma building.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Jose Ceballos and Ryan Reiter.

___

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


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