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Sunburn – The Morning Read Of What’s Hot In Florida Politics – 7.13.20

Las Vegas Sands makes a major bet on gambling in Florida. Image via AP.

By Peter Schorsch    

Good Tuesday morning.

Here’s hoping today is the day Michelle comes home from the hospital. In the meantime, Sunburn is chock full of news and scoops.


It seems 2022 will be a watershed year for the future of gambling in Florida.

Finance reports for June showed at least $42 million in contributions to a handful of new committees on the block, all of which hope to reshape the state’s gambling laws four years after an amendment reserved that right for Florida voters.

Florida Education Champions posted the most, showing a $20 million rake through eight-figure checks from DraftKings and FanDuel.

Last month, the committee announced its intentions: It wants to open up the state’s sports betting market to all comers sans oversight from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which was granted exclusive rights to run the industry in a new Gaming Compact approved by lawmakers in May.

But two other committees with more nebulous goals also filed reports that would be considered colossal even if the election were 16 weeks out, let alone 16 months.

The first, Florida Voters in Charge, showed a $17 million check from Las Vegas Sands, the multibillion-dollar resort and casino company built by the late Sheldon Adelson and still controlled by his family. The company has wanted a Vegas-style resort-casino in South Florida for years, but committee spokesperson Sarah Bascom stopped short of saying that’s their goal in 2022.

She said the committee is simply “contemplating various options with no intention to violate the recently passed compact/revenue sharing agreement.”

And then there’s People Against Regulatory Legislation Addressing You — an explication for PARLAY — which Magic City Casino staked with $15 million. Similar to Florida Voters in Charge, the committee did not lay out any specific goals.

According to committee chair Isadore Havenick, the group will “make sure our family business and other multigenerational family businesses are not excluded from any conversations that could cannibalize us.”

One final committee has yet to show its hand: Voters in Control.

The committee’s first finance report hasn’t been parsed by the Division of Elections. Still, sources tell Florida Politics that it will show a significant contribution from the Seminole Tribe when it goes live. The Tribe is hoping to squash amendments that would open the door for more operators, tacitly muting the significance of its historic win with the new Gaming Compact.

Seminole Gaming spokesperson Gary Bitner said as much.

“This is millions of out-of-state corporate dollars to try and manipulate the people of Florida, who are smarter than that. They think they can buy their way into the state. Our team intends to use our Florida dollars to protect the interests of the people of Florida,” he said in a statement to Florida Politics.


Alan Williams is heading to D.C. for a federal gig. Image via Florida House.

Personnel noteAlan Williams appointed Asst. Deputy Secretary at Joe Biden’s HUD — The Department of Housing and Urban Development has tapped Williams, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, for a key post. Williams was named deputy assistant secretary for intergovernmental relations in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations. “These talented and diverse individuals join HUD ready to deliver results for the American people by tackling our nation’s housing challenges to build a stronger, more equitable America,” HUD provided in a statement. Williams served in the Legislature from 2008 to 2016, at which point he was term-limited. During his time in the House, he chaired the Florida Legislative Black Caucus and worked as House Democratic Whip from 2012 to 2016.


Personnel note: Bob Asztalos heads to Florida Department of Veterans Affairs — Longtime Florida Health Care Association lobbyist Asztalos is now working as the Deputy Executive Director at the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. Asztalos is a veteran government relations pro — he spent 30 years lobbying for FHCA and was also tasked with coordinating the association’s emergency response efforts. He retired from FHCA late last year and has spent the past eight months working as an emergency management consultant for his own firm, Asztalos & Associates. The George Washington University graduate has also served as the Nursing Home Stakeholders Team Leader at the State Emergency Operations Center since 2004.


Personnel note: Vivian Myrtetus now partnerships and policy head at Helbiz  Myrtetus has a new top spot in the micro-mobility world. A former Southeastern U.S. government relations manager at Spin and government relations senior manager at Lime has joined Helbiz as its head of partnerships and policy. In the new role, Myrtetus will help the company expand its business into new markets across North America, working closely with local government officials, lawmakers and universities. “We are thrilled to welcome Vivian to our team,” Helbiz founder and CEO Salvatore Palella said. “Her appointment as Head of Partnerships and Policy is fully in line with our strategic plan to expand into new markets and will continue to position Helbiz as a leader within the micro-mobility space.”


Personnel note: Becker brings on Chris Berardini — Law and lobbying firm Becker welcomed Berardini to its federal lobbying practice this week. He comes to the firm from Iron Bridge Strategies, a boutique firm he founded. Before that, he spent 13 years working as a Chief of Staff in Congress. “We are very excited that Chris has joined our team. We know that our clients will greatly benefit from his international, legislative, and corporate experience,” said Omar Franco, head of Becker’s federal lobbying practice. Berardini played a key role in the passage of The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Reauthorization Act, The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 and The Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Act. He was also instrumental in securing funding for New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy.


— @marcorubio: For those new to the issue of #Cuba the protests we are witnessing was started by artists, not politicians. This song #PatriaYVida powerfully explains how young Cubans feel. And its release was so impactful, you will go to jail if caught playing it in Cuba



@JakeSullivan46: The U.S. supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba, and would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights.

@SenJanetCruz: For over half a century, #Cuba has suffered at the hands of its government. Make no mistake, their current situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic, but this has been a long time coming. They are pleading for food, medicine, and the restoration of their country. We must support the brave men and women in Cuba, who are risking their lives in order to stand up to the oppressive regime. I stand by them and their relentless fight for the freedom they deserve.

— @CortesBob: Looks like I will live to see a #CubaLibre before I see #PRStatehood. I’m good with that as our Cuban Brothers and Sisters are long overdue. #keepfighting #SOSCuba #PatriaYVida

— @alextdaugherty: .@SenRickScott on Cuba protests: “We cannot return to [BarackObamaBiden appeasement policies. We cannot lift sanctions or restore diplomatic relations with the Cuban dictatorship.”



— @brhodes: The Cuban people suffer doubly from a repressive government and a cruel U.S. embargo. They deserve policies that empower them and help them improve their lives.

— @antoniogm: Cellphones were illegal in Cuba until 2008. Even basic 3G data on phones wasn’t available until 2018 (and is still prohibitively expensive). Still, you’re seeing images of government repression come out of Cuba that would have been impossible even a couple years ago.

— @ric23: Strongly worded statement by @POTUS in support of the Cuban people. But we need more than strong words. We need direct diplomacy and an easing of sanctions that, as Biden recognized, “have done nothing to advance democracy or human rights” or curb COVID-19 spread in #Cuba.

@MiamiAbel: I’m already sick of Republicans using this for their own politics. Democrats are not Communists. Democrats don’t want the U.S. to turn into Cuba. And if you want to have a conversation about authoritarianism, let’s talk about the GOP curbing FREE SPEECH and PROTEST in Florida.

@Dgleick: Every time we do a tweet about Haiti, all the comments are “what about Cuba!?” and every time we do a tweet about Cuba, all the comments are “what about Haiti?!” and I want to die.

@realStanVG: Just finished reading the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and all 27 Amendments. Doesn’t take long, and I don’t think I’d done it since I was a college freshman which was a couple of years ago.


FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.comJuly 13, 2021

Republished with permission