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Sunburn – The Morning Read Of What’s Hot In Florida Politics – 8.23.21

Richard Corcoran’s threat to withhold money from school districts is causing a huge rift among lawmakers. Image via AP.

By Peter Schorsch    

Good Monday morning.

Summertime often sees a flurry of personnel moves in the world of government and politics. Let’s start the morning with an update about who’s in the Departure Lounge.

Fred Piccolo makes another big move. Image via Colin Hackley.

— First up in the Lounge is Fred Piccolo, the former Communications Director and spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Speaker José Oliva. Piccolo has left his position as Executive Vice Chancellor for the Florida Department of Education’s college system and is now the Communications Director at the Florida Justice Association.

— As first reported by POLITICO Florida, Mr. Meerkat, Matthew Mears, is leaving his position as the Department of Education’s general counsel to run the state’s Division of Early Learning.

— Another high-profile flyer in the Departure Lounge is Paige Davis. Previously a Deputy Chief of Staff to Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Davis, who was the campaign manager of Patronis’ first race, is transitioning to the Republican’s reelection campaign, where she will be an in-house fundraiser. Davis is also moving to Jacksonville to be closer to her husband, Nick Primrose.

— Emily Duda Buckley, a truly generous and kind person who spent the last two years as Director Legislative Affairs at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is now a lobbyist at the Dean Mead lobbying firm, where she will rejoin former colleagues, Marc Dunbar and Chris Moya. Meanwhile, Carlos Nathan, who had served as Buckley’s deputy, has been promoted to Director.

— Smart guy Chris Emmanuelwho had been the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s primary advocate for transportation, utilities, energy, and property rights issues, is now in Chris Spencer‘s shop — the Office of Policy and Budget — DeSantis’ office. Also new to OPB are Melissa Smith and Michael Wilson, who moved over from the Florida House.

— BillieAnne Gaya fierce competitor in our TallyMadness tournaments, is exiting her position as Director of Legislative & Advocacy Services at the Florida School Boards Association. “BillieAnne has been instrumental in leading our advocacy services for the past several years and will be greatly missed,” said Andrew Messina, the Executive Director of the Florida School Boards Association. We already know what Gay’s next move is, but it deserves a full write-up, so check back on that later this week.


First in Sunburn — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried today is announcing two promotions and a new hire in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ communications office.

Franco Ripple gets a major promotion in the Nikki Fried orbit.

Franco Ripple, who served as FDACS communications director, has been promoted to Director of Strategic Initiatives, filling the role vacated by Shahra Lambert, who recently joined the Joe Biden administration at NASA.

He previously served as vice president of CATECOMM and as an adviser to numerous gubernatorial, congressional, and statewide campaigns. He most recently served as North Florida Director on the Biden-Harris presidential campaign.

As Director of Strategic Initiatives, Ripple will continue to advise on communications while managing strategic goals, partnerships, and innovation for FDACS.

Fried also elevated Erin Moffet from Director of Federal Affairs to Director of Strategic Communications and Federal Affairs, where she will continue to oversee the federal affairs team while managing the FDACS Office of Communications.

Moffet has worked in the department since March 2019, first as deputy director of federal affairs. She previously spent nine years working in Washington for members of the Florida delegation, including former U.S. Reps. Alcee L. HastingsLois FrankelPatrick Murphy and Charlie Crist.

Caroline Stonecipher is a new addition to the department. She was appointed as Deputy Director of Communications, joining the department after serving as press secretary for U.S. Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan. She has also served as press secretary for former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama and as deputy press secretary for former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

In her new role, she will serve as a spokesperson and assist in the day-to-day communications functions of the department.

Ripple and Moffet began their new roles in July, and Stonecipher joined the department in early August.


First in Sunburn — Political marketing firm MDW Communications will announce today that Andrew Dolberg will be joining their team as director of strategic initiatives.

Dolberg was the Florida Jewish vote director for Biden’s presidential campaign and most recently served as the director of outreach for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“Andrew is an incredible talent,” said Michael Worley, the president and founder of MDW communications. “We’re thrilled to have him joining our team.”

Before working as a political operative, Dolberg started an education resources company called Champion Briefs, which focused on improving speech and debate education for high school students.

Outside of his professional work, he serves as a board member for the Voter Participation Project, as the vice-chair of the City of Plantation’s Education Advisory Board, and as programs director for the Broward Jewish Democratic Caucus.

In 2019, Dolberg was named a Rising Star of Florida Politics by FloridaPolitics.com and INFLUENCE Magazine.

MDW is one of the top digital and direct mail firms for Democratic candidates and causes in Florida. It has won 25 national awards for excellence in political communications, including five Reed Awards from “Campaigns & Elections” earlier this year.


Spotted at Florida Senate Democrats’ “Family Weekend” fundraiser at Disney World this weekend: Sens. Lauren BookBobby PowellAnnette Taddeo, and Vic Torres, as well as Melanie DiMuzioJose GonzalezSean Pittman, Orlando Pryor, and Stephen Shiver.


Sources close to Speaker Sprowls say his first pitch was ‘member-driven.’

Spotted throwing out the first pitch at the Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg: Speaker Chris Sprowls.


@wxdam: What a complete failure that almost half the country doesn’t think COVID is a big issue anymore. If you’re one of them, I hear you and ICU.




@Annette_Taddeo: It’s been 40 days since @GovRonDeSantis started selling anti-(AnthonyFauci gear for his ‘24 campaign. Since then, 3,290 Floridians have died & there’s still no state of emergency in sight despite my various calls. Heck of a job there, Ron.

Tweet, tweet:


@VoteRandyFine: Despite our passing a law making this illegal, @Facebook has just de-platformed me over a post I made weeks ago against mask mandates. Bad move.

@AnnaEskamani: 1. Judge halted FL de-platforming law bcuz it’s unconstitutional; 2. You posted cellphone # of a colleague & encouraged ppl to berate her; that’s potentially against the law (HB1, you voted for it); 3. Online actions can cause mental & physical harm to others — this isn’t a game.

@KevinCate: One day, we’re all going to read books about this pandemic and still be in absolute disbelief and shock that so many refused to save their own lives or give a shit about anyone else.

Tweet, tweet:

FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.comAug. 23, 2021

Republished with permission 


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