Sunburn for 1/9 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms. You need their team on your side during this Legislative session for media, grassroots and netroots support. Visit to read about their team and how they can help you.

OBAMA’S ‘IN YOUR FACE’ SECOND TERM Frank Wilkinson says the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary “represents both an affront to Republicans, who have never honestly reckoned with the disasters of George W. Bush’s foreign policy, and to Democrats, who have spent decades crafting foreign policy designed in part to avoid inciting aggression not from abroad, but from Republicans.” “Obama may or may not believe Hagel is the best person for the job. But he certainly is mindful of the challenge he has just laid down. Unless opponents can restrict the debate on Hagel to his views — real or imagined — on Israel, they risk litigating the disastrous policies that Hagel rejected and his most vociferous critics embraced.” “An oddly similar battle awaits on the debt ceiling. Obama says that, unlike 2011, he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling. To hold that line, he will have to explain — repeatedly — that spending is initiated in the House and passed by Congress. In other words, the battle presents an opportunity to stick Republicans with their share of blame for the deficit, a reckoning they have evaded as assiduously as the one on Iraq and Afghanistan.”

FLA. LAWMAKERS TO PARTY AT ‘SUNSHINE & STARS’ INAUGURAL BALL Members of Florida’s Congressional delegation will attend the “Sunshine and Stars” inaugural ball Jan. 19 in Washington. The event has some powerful corporate sponsors, including CSX, Florida Blue, Florida Sugar Cane League and TECO Energy, according to an invite posted by Alex Leary via the Sunlight Foundation.

CONGRESS LESS POPULAR THAN COCKROACHES A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that Congress only has a 9% favorability rating with 85% of voters viewing it unfavorably. That’s less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, root canals and even Nickelback.

POLL: MOST REPUBLICANS DISAPPROVED OF BOEHNER’S NEGOTIATING  A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds 52% of Republican voters disapprove of the way House Speaker John Boehner handled the fiscal cliff negotiations, a 15-percentage point jump from December when the talks were ongoing.  Among the most conservative Republican and independent voters, disapproval of Boehner spiked from 36% to 61%.

JUST 8% OF AMERICANS SAY THEY ARE TEA PARTY MEMBERS Views of the Tea Party movement are at their lowest point ever, with voters for the first time evenly divided when asked to match the views of the average Tea Party member against those of the average member of Congress.  Only eight percent (8%) now say they are members of the Tea Party, down from a high of 24% in April 2010 just after passage of the national health care law.  A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds that only 30% of likely US voters now have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party. Half (49%) of voters have an unfavorable view of the movement. Twenty-one percent (21%) are undecided.  ***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Ron Sachs Communication. Ron Sachs Communications provides its clients with a competitive advantage built on strategic relationships, dynamic creativity and smart and aggressive communications strategies that generate superior results. If you want to win, you’ll want to have Ron Sachs Communications on your side. ***

EMAILS SHOW SCOTT KNOWS HIS MEDICAID NUMBERS ARE WRONG via Health News Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he opposes expanding Florida Medicaid because it would cost too much: $63 billion over 10 years, he says, with the state paying $26 billion of that. But those numbers are based on a flawed report, state budget analysts say. A series of e-mails obtained by 

Health News Florida shows the analysts warned Scott’s office the numbers were wrong weeks ago, but he is still using them. He cited them in a 

Tampa Bay Times op-ed on Sunday and at at a Washington press conference on Monday

 (see YouTube video). The flawed report, “Estimates Related to the Affordable Care Act,” was sent to members of the Legislative Budget Commission on Dec. 17. Three days later, two of the recipients pointed out the faulty assumptions and sent it back to AHCA for a do-over.  They said it would violate Florida law to proceed with the estimate. But Michael Anway, Scott’s new coordinator for health policy and budget, sent an e-mail Friday to the others saying he will submit the original estimates  as an “alternative forecast” when the revised AHCA report comes before the next budget estimating conference. Anway said he doesn’t believe the federal funds will come through. “The federal government has a $16 trillion national debt,  must borrow 46 cents of every dollar it spends, and in 2011 had its credit rating downgraded for the first time in history,” he wrote in explanation.

POLITIFACT RULES SCOTT’S CLAIMS FALSE (R)ather than have a fact-based discussion about the state’s responsibilities when it comes to health care, it appears that Scott and his staff are making strange assumptions to make the estimates higher than they actually will be. This is also a case where Scott cannot simply hide behind the fact that he is accurately citing a “study.” His office directed the analysis, and it was notified that the assumptions were questionable. Scott gets a pass on one thing: The cost to expand Medicaid is largely unknown. But using a study to say that the expansion of Medicaid would cost Florida taxpayers “over $26 billion” is False.

RUTH COLUMN: WHAT RICK SCOTT DOESN’T GET “Scott doesn’t understand why everybody’s not a Republican? Is that so? “Perhaps Scott was channeling his inner Mitt Romney, with the not too thinly veiled assertion that those who don’t want to improve themselves tend to gravitate toward the Democratic Party.” ***The Florida Health Care Affordability Summit, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on January 10-11, 2013, will bring some of the most knowledgeable stakeholders in health care to the table – from health plans, hospital executives and health care providers, to some of Florida’s biggest employers and elected officials – to discuss how to make Florida healthier and bring affordable, accessible, quality health care to Floridians. To register to attend or for more information, please visit***


Tampa Bay Times Emily Benavides, former Florida press secretary for the Mitt Romney campaign and national special media press secretary, is joining the Hispanic Leadership Network as national communications director based in Washington. The independent, two-year-old group that promotes center-right issues to Hispanic voters could see its profile rise in the GOP given the drubbing the party suffered with Hispanic voters in November. The network also has hired Marco Valera, former Hispanic outreach adviser to U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev, also has been hired as HLN’s Southwest Regional Coordinator. “I am thrilled to have Emily and Marco join our HLN family,” said HLN Executive Director Jennifer S. Korn. “They both possess a deep understanding of the needs of the Hispanic community, and the know-how on inspiring them to organize, act, and make a difference in their lives through civic participation.”


Tampa Bay Times Six of the governor’s 14 appointments to the State University System Board of Governors for higher education are up for review this month. The pool of candidates for vacancies includes former state Rep. Fred Costello, a dentist from Ormond Beach;Harry Wayne Huizenga Jr., son of the former Miami Dolphins owner and Blockbuster Video founder; educator John Giotis of Clearwater Beach; and Alan Levine of Naples, a health care executive and senior VP of Hospital Management Services of Florida. The four BOG members whose terms are up are Tico Perez of Orlando, Gus Stavros of St. Petersburg, John Temple of Boca Raton and Norman Tripp of Fort Lauderdale. Among those incumbents, only Tripp is seeking a new seven-year term, according to the governor’s office. Two other vacancies exist because BOG membersJoe Caruncho and Ava Parker resigned with parts of their terms unfilled to take other positions. Scott said that one prerequisite for BOG appointment is that they must share his opposition to any more tuition increases at universities.

MACHEN RESCINDS RESIGNATION FROM UF via the Associated Press Cancel the retirement party for University of Florida President Bernie Machen. He agreed Tuesday to remain at the Gainesville campus at the urging of Gov. Rick Scott and the chairman of the university’s board of trustees, David Brown. In a written statement, Machen said he changed his mind about retiring after Scott committed to support his goal of making Florida a top 10 university. Florida is listed 17th among national public universities in annual higher education rankings published by U.S. News & World Report. Machen, 69, had announced in June that he would retire in 2013. He made the announcement shortly after Scott signed a budget that cut funding for the state’s universities by $300 million and vetoed a bill that would have exempted Florida and Florida State University from a 15 percent annual cap on tuition increases. ***The PA Team of Jack and Keyna Cory and Erin Daly have represented clients before the Florida Legislature, state agencies and local governments for over 20 years. They don’t just show up for the legislative session.  Instead they custom design and implement a Grassroots Program for each of their Clients that functions all year long.  As one former legislator stated, “They are tough, well-organized, dedicated to their clients and in full command of the facts.”***


Orlando Sentinel  The influential SEIU Florida union threw its weight behind Allison Tant, the Tallahassee fundraiser who is squaring off with Tampa activist Alan Clendenin for the post being vacated by current FDP Chairman Rod Smith. “Allison’s dedication to grassroots advocacy for the disabled, public education, and quality health care are aligned with the values of 55,000 active and retired members of SEIU in Florida,” Monica Russo, President of SEIU Florida State Council, said in a statement. “In addition, she brings a vitality and tenaciousness to campaigning and fundraising that will be required in order to win real gains for Floridians both legislatively and electorally.” Clendenin, meanwhile, has picked up endorsements from other corners of the base, including the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida. On Tuesday, he got the endorsement of the Democratic Business Caucus of Florida. “Clendenin is an outspoken advocate for small business. He understands small businesses are the economic engine that will grow our economy and increase employment.” said Richard O’Brien, chairman of the caucus.

HERE’S WHERE SH*T STANDS IN THE FDP CHAIR RACE via Kartik Krishnaiyer This past weekend many leaders of the party met in Central Florida to discuss the FDP Chairs Race and hear from both candidates. In recent days we’ve heard a great deal from both campaigns regarding the state of the race but a few things seem to stand out. Allison Tant has received a few commitments from medium sized counties previously thought to be on the fence or leaning  towards Alan Clendenin. Clendenin still is running strongly in southeast Florida and other urban counties.  Orange County is an exception to this general trend. The Democratic Veterans Caucus has endorsed Clendenin. With both candidates continuing to boast significant support talk of a compromise has begun to spring up. Various scenarios have been floated for this but none have acquired significant traction as of yet. As Kevin Thurman wrote on Sunday, Tant’s recent party memo coupled with Clendenin’s plan essentially means that change will be coming to the FDP regardless of the result. It can be strongly argued the degree or severity of change (depending on your perspective) but an admission has been made that the party is operating nowhere near full potential by both candidates. Clendenin is also boasting stronger than expected support in some small counties, indicating the race is still very fluid at this moment. The State Committee meeting where the vote for Chair will be held is scheduled for January 26th in Lake Mary. ***Representatives from Florida’s aerospace industry will visit Tallahassee on March 6, 2013, to participate in Florida Space Day and share with legislators the opportunities the industry brings to Florida and the nation’s space program. During Space Day, industry leaders and other aerospace supporters will meet with House and Senate members, as well as the lieutenant governor, to discuss  growing areas of the state’s $8 billion space industry, and determine the best strategies for leveraging these markets for Florida’s benefit in the years ahead.***

SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO PRESS LEGISLATURE FOR SAFETY MONEY via The News Service of Florida Florida school districts plan to press state lawmakers for an increase in school security money in the upcoming legislative session, following last year’s school shooting in Connecticut. About $70 million in the current budget goes for school security, mainly for armed school resource officers in middle and high school. Florida School Boards Association Director Wayne Blanton said that to adequately protect students, more money is needed. “Some of the districts have put uniformed officers already in elementary schools and that costs a lot of money,” Blanton said. “But the safety of our students is the number one priority of our public schools and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure our schools are even safer than they are now. I will tell you, it’s going to be expensive. It would be in excess of $100 million.” Security system components such as cameras, locks and scanners could be part of the solution as well. Blanton said in some older schools teachers can’t even lock classroom doors from the inside. “Maybe we need a different type of glass. Maybe we need panic buttons in classrooms,” Blanton said. “There are a lot of things that we can do right now that cost very little to help our safety measures out there in our public schools.” The Senate Education Committee will begin talking about school safety issues on Tuesday.

SENATE PANEL TO HEAR FROM ELECTIONS SUPERVISORS The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee will hear from ten elections supervisors Monday as it looks into what went wrong in Florida’s 2012 elections. Those scheduled to testify include: Martin County Supervisor Vicki Davis, Bay County Supervisor Mark Andersen, Duval County Supervisor Jerry Holland, Escambia County Supervisor David Stafford, Lee County Supervisor Sharon Harrington, Miami-Dade County Supervisor Penelope Townsley, Palm Beach County Supervisor Susan Bucher, Pasco County Supervisor Brian Corley, St. Lucie County Supervisor Gertrude Walker and Seminole County Supervisor Mike Ertel. Davis is president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.

ANGELA DEMPSEY, FORMER SCOTT ADMIN LOBBYIST, JOINING DUTKO POOLE MCKINLEY Governor Rick Scott’s former Legislative Affairs Director, Angela Peterson Dempsey, has accepted a position as vice president at the Tallahassee-based government and public affairs firm, Dutko Poole McKinley.  Dempsey, a veteran Florida public policy strategist who managed the Governor’s legislative activities for the past two years, will help the Dutko Poole McKinley office service corporate and non-profit clients seeking to strengthen their brand and stature in Tallahassee, Florida, Washington, D.C., and other state and global capitals.  Prior to running Scott’s legislative office, Dempsey served in senior capacities in the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the Florida Public Service Commission, the Florida House of Representatives, and the Executive Office of Governor Jeb Bush, where she provided analysis for the Office of Policy and Budget.  “I cannot think of a better way to start the New Year than to announce that Angela has joined the Dutko Poole McKinley team,” said McKinley.  “Her vast experience with both policy and budget matters in the legislative and executive branches of Florida government will be extremely beneficial to our clients.”

TABITHA MCDONALD NAMED GOV’T AFFAIRS COORDINATOR FOR FLA. SHERIFF’S ASSOC. The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) announced the selection of Tabitha McDonald to fill the role of Government Affairs Coordinator. Under the direction of Assistant Executive Director of Operations Sarrah Carroll, McDonald will be responsible for coordinating Sheriff’s personnel assigned to legislative issues, as well as researching and managing the Association policy development process. She will also work on the implementation of new laws and coordinate with FSA’s partners in preparation for future legislation.  “The skills and experience Tabitha brings to the table will be a valued asset to FSA,” said FSA Executive Director Steve Casey. “Her presence here will help strengthen the voice of Florida’s Sheriffs in the halls of government.” This will mark the first time FSA has had a dedicated Government Affairs Coordinator; a role previously handled by the Assistant Executive Director of Operations. ***Florida Capitol Advocates is one of the most experienced advocacy groups in Florida.  The firm has extensive experience advocating on behalf of clients in front of state, federal, and international governments and is ready to help your organization successfully maneuver through the legislative process. Visit to learn more about how they can help you.***

CONGRATULATIONS to the wonderful Stacie Blake, executive director of Community Tampa Bay, and the inestimable Tony Collins on their engagement.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Greg Giordano, longtime legislative aide to Rep. Mike Fasano and Honey Rand.

SPRING TRAINING: Gov. Scott announced the 2013 spring training schedule for Major League Baseball teams in Florida. Team schedules, tickets other information is available here.

WAIT ‘TIL 2014: Both Florida and Florida State have a 15-to-1 shot of winning the Bowl Championship Series, according to RJ Bell, CEO of