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Sunburn — The Morning Read Of What’s Hot In Florida Politics — 6.14.22

By Peter Schorsch

Good Tuesday morning.

I’ve been back stateside for 48 hours and, man, it’s good to be home. Thank you to each and all of you who reached out to check on me and, more importantly, to see if there was anything needed to help Michelle and Ella Joyce.

If there was an upside to being sick, it gave me more time to write, a situation I took advantage of the past few days. Here are four items that I recently wrote about:

🚨🗳🚨 — There’s a new chapter in the Amendment 4 saga. One of the 10 Alachua County felons arrested for “voter fraud” was sentenced to three years in prison for registering to vote, likely without knowing he did anything wrong. Meanwhile, The Villages residents who double-dipped at the ballot box got off with community service. Sounds about right.

👻🏚👻 — Someone call Zack Bagans because it looks like SD 5 is haunted. Or it seems like it has a ghost candidate, at least. Republican Binod Kumar has signed up to run in the solid blue seat, where Rep. Tracie Davis and Jacksonville City Council Member Reggie Gaffney are barreling toward a winner-take-all Democratic Primary. Kumar can’t win, of course, but if he qualifies, he could disenfranchise half the district.

🤦👬🤦 — The new election police force might need to make a trip to Manatee County, where it seems Republican County Commission candidate Jason Bearden has recruited two of his buddies to enter the same race, essentially closing the primary against his Republican incumbent opponent. The kicker: He’s a QAnon supporting Big Lie peddler. The cherry on top: He’s posing for photos with the shill candidates, White-guy-thumbs-up pose and all.

🙉💵🙊 — The Tampa Bay Times ran a glowing profile of wealthy investor Darryl Shaw last week, covering everything from his role in building a successful veterinary emergency and specialty hospital chain to his upbringing in apartheid-era South Africa … but not the $1.5 million check he cut to keep the Times afloat. Hopefully, the piece counts as their June payment.


Here are some first-in-Sunburn personnel notes:

AARP Florida announced Tuesday that it has promoted Zayne Smith to Director of Advocacy and added Karen Murillo to its advocacy team.

Smith is an experienced policy advocate with roots in Texas and policy experience at the state and national levels. She leads AARP Florida’s work on long-term care, prescription drugs, health care, utilities, guardianship, state budget and transportation issues.

In her new role, Smith will oversee a team of five staff throughout the state and is charged with directing AARP advocacy efforts and strategy on a wide range of issues, including long-term care.

Congratulations to Zayne Smith for moving up the ladder at AARP-FL.

Murillo is a former Assistant Statewide Prosecutor and Senior Protection Team Coordinator for the Florida Attorney General’s Office, which recruited her due to her expertise and passion for prosecuting and preventing crimes targeting vulnerable adults and seniors across the state.

She will serve as Advocacy Manager in AARP Florida’s Tallahassee office.

“Floridians 50+ are facing some of the most critical challenges in life, including affording retirement, finding quality care, access to affordable housing, caregiving, remaining independent as they age, and much more,” AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said.

“The experience that Zayne and Karen bring to the table will ensure AARP Florida is well-positioned to advocate for Floridians who are facing these challenges and beyond.”

Meanwhile, the Florida Retail Federation this week announced Jessica Hunter will join the team as director of Governmental Affairs.

“We are thrilled to have Jessica join the FRF team,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of FRF. “With her expertise in state policy and keen understanding of the legislative process, Jessica will play a key role in advocating on behalf of our diverse membership of retailers.”

Congrats to Jessica Hunter, the new big hire at FRF.

In her new role, Hunter will work alongside Grace Lovett, FRF’s vice president of Government Affairs, and Lorena Holley, FRF’s vice president and General Counsel, representing Florida retailers at the state Capitol.

Hunter previously served in the Florida Senate Majority Office under Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield. In this role, she analyzed policy, developed strategies to pass legislation, and briefed Senators and staff. Before that, Hunter worked as deputy legislative and cabinet affairs director at the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


Americans for Prosperity-Florida has launched a direct mail campaign to thank lawmakers for passing property insurance reform during the recent Special Session.

The mailers are heading out to voters in the districts of lawmakers who voted in favor of the legislation, which AFP-FL described as a “top-priority insurance bill.”

“Property insurance reform is one of the most complex issues for Florida. We thank legislative leadership, bill sponsors Sen. Jim Boyd and Rep. Jay Trumbull, and the legislative body for their hard work,” said AFP-FL State Director Skylar Zander.

AFP-FL gives props where it’s due.

“We all understand these changes will help begin to tackle much-needed reforms within the property insurance market; however, it is a tremendous start for improvement. We look forward to continuing working with lawmakers to further benefit the Floridians of this great state.”

Example mail for Boyd and Trumbull say they championed legislation to “reform and improve insurance marketplace,” lower insurance costs, and “protect consumers from fraudulent actors in the insurance market.”

The reverse states the highlighted lawmaker is “fighting to reform and improve Florida’s insurance market” and urges voters to contact their lawmakers to thank them “for fighting for Floridians” and to ask them “to keep supporting these policies.”


U.S. Sugar’s sustainable South Florida operations got the spotlight in last night’s episode of “How America Works with Mike Rowe.”

The episode featured five U.S. Sugar employees: production supervisor Jay Baez Jr., mill worker Leonard Sampson, roll welder Phillip Ford, assistant refinery manager of operations Billy Dyess and team leader Orlando Martinez.

Each has worked for U.S. Sugar for a decade or more — and some are members of families that have worked at the Clewiston-based company for generations.

Mike Rowe goes behind the scenes at U.S. Sugar.

Dyess, for instance, began his time at U.S. Sugar with his father, Fred Dyess Sr., who helped commission the refinery. And Sampson has been joined by his son during his time at U.S. Sugar.

Ahead of the episode’s Monday evening debut on Fox Business, some employees featured in the program were invited to a special advanced screening at the Clewiston Museum.

“While these five may be just a small representation of the people of U.S. Sugar, they show the dedication, enthusiasm, and stewardship our employees have for the communities where we live, work and raise our families,” the company said in a news release.


@Baseballot: For the first time in his presidency, Joe Biden’s average @FiveThirtyEight approval rating has fallen below 40%.

@ElieNYC: If I’m not mistaken, in 2 days of hearings, the Committee has only used REPUBLICAN or nonpartisan witnesses to make the case that: * (DonaldTrump lost the election * And launched a coup * Based on lies he told to the American people.

@HugoLowell: Jan. 6 committee establishes the Trump campaign was a complete grift — they raised $250 million after the election for the “Official Election Defense Fund,” which did not exist and the money instead went to Trump hotels and his own Save America PAC

@MickMulvaney: Trump’s inner circle at the end was … (RudyGiulianiSidney PowellLin WoodPeter Navarro … Garbage in. Garbage out.

@ChrisCillizza: Rep. Zoe Lofgren makes a key point: Of the 62 cases Trump’s campaign brought following the 2020 election, they lost 61 of them. (And the one they won had no material effect on the outcome.)

Tweet, tweet:




@HipHopLobbyist: This is quietly the most exciting week in politics (outside budget/veto week)


FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.comJune 14, 2022

Republished with permission 


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