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Sunburn — The Morning Read Of What’s Hot In Florida Politics — 1.10.22

2022 will be Ron DeSantis’ Session.

By Peter Schorsch    

Good Monday morning, and welcome to a monster edition of Sunburn for the final day before the 2022 Legislative Session.

Let’s begin with some significant personnel moves, all of them first in Sunburn.

Former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is now a partner at Shumaker Advisors Florida.

Welcome to the lobbying class, Bob Buckhorn.

Buckhorn will focus on economic and urban development while working with clients to improve the overall quality of life in the Tampa Bay region and statewide.

“There is an art to building cities and communities that thrive. It takes deliberate planning and vigorous leadership,” he said. “I am excited to work with the talented Shumaker Advisors team and their clients to grow our communities strategically, equitably, and with purpose. These are unprecedented times for the Tampa Bay region, and our potential remains limitless.”

Buckhorn served as Tampa Mayor from 2011 to 2019, entering office on the heels of the Great Recession. Facing a $30 million deficit upon taking office, he annually balanced Tampa’s billion-dollar budget eight years in a row.

He also spearheaded the development of the Invision Plan, a blueprint for the city’s urban core, and worked with the Obama administration to secure a grant to complete the Tampa Riverwalk.

“We could not be more honored to have Bob join Shumaker Advisors. His exceptional leadership and depth of experience is unparalleled,” said Shumaker Advisors President and CEO Ron Christaldi. “His confidence in us as his new team is a testament to all we have achieved together over the past several years and we look forward for many successes to come.”

Shumaker Advisors, which has offices across the Southeast and Midwest, expanded to Florida a few years ago and has rapidly expanded since. Before bringing on Buckhorn, the firm merged with Suskey Consulting and tapped Alan Suskey to serve as the managing principal of state affairs and lead the firm’s Tallahassee practice.

Gunster’s lobbying team is heading into the Legislative Session with a new member: Tim Stapleton.

Tim Stapleton becomes one of Gunster’s big guns for Session.

Stapleton comes aboard as a government affairs consultant and will work out of the firm’s Tallahassee and West Palm Beach offices.

As the former longtime CEO of the Florida Medical Association, a job he held through early September, Stapleton brings solid expertise in advising health care industry clients on an array of public policy issues. Before rising to CEO, Stapleton led FMA’s public affairs operations.

As such, he is well-versed in spearheading governmental affairs and political operations for large, statewide professional associations, as well as counseling clients in identifying priorities, developing strategic plans, and building key relationships to advance their business goals.

U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, a medical doctor, said Stapleton “has that rare combination of political savvy, strategic thinking and a deep understanding of public policy issues that make him a tremendous asset to any organization that he works with. His deep background and understanding of health care policy and operations is difficult to duplicate.”

Gunster also announced Monday that Tom Sawyer is joining its Real Estate and Environment & Land Use practices as an of-counsel attorney. He will work out of the firm’s Stuart and West Palm Beach offices.

“Sawyer and Stapleton are both true experts in their field and immensely passionate about tackling the most complex matters for our clients,” said Bill Perry, Gunster’s managing shareholder.

“Having individuals with specialized skills in governmental policy across multiple industries is a valuable addition to our firm’s growing talent arsenal, and brings a unique, competitive edge to our firm’s services and capabilities. We look forward to seeing what they accomplish in the new year and beyond.”

Seasoned congressional staffer and veteran journalist Dave Karvelas is the newest addition to the Ballard Partners lobbying team.

Karvelas has spent more than three decades working in various capacities on Capitol Hill, with nearly half it spent in U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s office.

He started at the Congressman’s office in 2006 and served as Chief of Staff from the start of 2007 to the end of 2020. He then served as a senior adviser to Buchanan from January through June of last year.

Karvelas’ lengthy tenure in Buchanan’s office is of particular value to the lobbying firm, as he comes on as a lobbyist at a moment when Buchanan appears poised to chair the House Ways & Means Committee if Republicans win the majority in November.

“Dave’s experience as one of the most seasoned veterans of Capitol Hill brings an exponential dimension to our firm’s bipartisan advocacy in the halls of Congress and the Ways and Means Committee,” said Brian Ballard, president and founder of Ballard Partners. “We are honored that Dave is joining our top-tier team of Washington professionals.”

Buchanan is not the only Ways & Means Committee member Karvelas has served. He also worked as Chief of Staff to former Reps. Nancy Johnson, a Connecticut Republican, and Rep. Dick Zimmer, a New Jersey Republican.

Now he moves to the lobbying corps after lengthy tenures as House staff and before that in the press galleys. “I am delighted to join Brian and the bipartisan team at Ballard Partners,” Karvelas said.

Baptist Health in Northeast Florida has brought on Dane Bennett as Director of Government Relations.

Dane Bennett brings solid experience in health care advocacy.

Bennett comes to Baptist Health from the Florida Home Builders Association, where he has worked as Director of Government Affairs since 2019. Before that, he worked in government affairs and public policy at Well Care Health Plans. He also served as a legislative aide to former Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto from 2013-2017.

In his new role, Bennett will work alongside top Baptist Health executives and serve as a strategic liaison with public officials at the local, state, and federal levels to advance the hospital system’s legislative, policy and program goals. He will report directly to Baptist Health President and CEO Michael Mayo.

“With his extensive experience in government affairs and public policy, Dane is a real asset to our team,” Mayo said. “His strategic mindset, collaborative style, and demonstrated ability to cultivate relationships make him an excellent fit for our organization.”

Bennett is a double alum of Florida State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and his master’s degree in public administration. He is also a military veteran, having served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves as a Captain and Amphibious Assault Vehicle Officer.


Just in time for Session, Florida Politics has updated its lists of the Twitter accounts of the Florida House and Senate members.

Click here for the Florida House list.

Click here for the Florida Senate list.

@JohnAnzo: Stat of the Day: 6.4 million. The U.S. ended 2021 with 6.4 million more jobs than at the end of 2020 — a record increase for any year on record since at least 1940 (81 years).

@KThomasDC: @POTUS: “The stock market, the last guy’s measure of everything, is about 20% higher than it was when my predecessor was there. It has hit record after record after record on my watch while making things more equitable for working-class people.”

@BuckSexton: The CDC has managed to take the title of most inept, useless, corrupt 3 letter agency in the federal government, which is a pretty damn impressive achievement

@MarcoRubio: Omicron is far less deadly & for the vaccinated generally causes mild symptoms & at worst illness comparable to the flu If workers aren’t forced to isolate at all for the flu, why are they forced to isolate for 5 days for omicron even if they are vaccinated & have no symptoms?

@ChristinaPushaw: People should be told the truth, nothing more, nothing less.

@ChrisSprowls: Every day, but especially today, the Florida House honors and expresses our deep appreciation for the brave men and women of law enforcement across our state and nation. Thank you for your commitment to keeping our communities safe

@JeffreyBrandes: As we prepare to go into Legislative Session, let’s spend a few minutes talking about what’s going on in the Florida Doc and how the state is managing the collapse of the department. Currently, almost 70% of our state-run correction facilities are in emergency staffing. (Be sure to click here to read the entire thread.)

@ShevrinJones: Pastors message was a great pep rally before the FL legislative session kicks off on Tuesday. Pastor reminded us that “whatever you, however you do it, LEAD with the light of love, and you can’t go wrong.” This will be my mantra!

@MicheleforFL: As I’m packing for Session, I decided this was the time to FINALLY organize and clean my closet. This has made this process so much longer.

Tweet, tweet:


@NateMonroeTU: Halftime. Time to put a crib together.

FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.comJan. 10, 2022

Republished with permission