Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.31.22

Gun Rights

Good Tuesday morning.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce held candidate interviews for state legislative seats in the Central Florida area last week, and insiders walked away with a better idea of who they — and their organizations — will support in the upcoming elections.

In HD 45, where five Republicans are vying to replace Rep. Geraldine Thompson, a Democrat was among the most impressive. Allie Braswell, insiders say, was prepared with intelligent answers. Still, Republicans Mike Zhao and Janet Frevola also showed up from the HD 45 field, but the five-person Primary fracas will shape up to be a battle of political consultants with no clear favorite yet.

Democrat Allie Braswell made a great impression.

In HD 37, Republican Susan Plascencia — Coach P’s sister — is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith. Those in the interview room say she had a well-articulated pitch and solid ground game strategy that could put her in a position to oust the incumbent.

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Democrat Tiffany Hughes also garnered attention as a crowd favorite, with some tossing around the term “rising star.” She’s one of two Democrats running for the new HD 39, an open seat currently held by Rep. Kamia Brown, who is running for Senate. The takeaway from the interview is that Hughes will “be a refreshing presence in Tallahassee.”

As interesting as who showed up was who didn’t. Republican Taylor Yarkosky is rumored to have his eyes on becoming House Speaker for the 2028-30 term, but he canceled his interview with little notice. One of his opponents, Liz Cornell, showed up and was a crowd favorite. Cornell has a lot of catching up in the HD 25 race, but her performance at the Chamber interviews shows she shouldn’t be counted out entirely.


Markel trial verdict: Guilty — GUILTY. First-degree murder. Conspiracy. Solicitation.

After nearly eight hours of deliberation, a jury of 12 peers found Katherine Magbanua culpable for her role in the 2014 murder of Dan Markel.

Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman was at a loss for words, she told reporters. And while there’s still “a ways to go,” she and her team will take a moment to appreciate the step toward justice taken today.

Guilty: The Dan Markel murder trial gets a quick verdict. Image via Tallahassee Democrat.

“They’ve been through hell and back,” she said of Markel’s family, who was present for the whole trial and spoke publicly after the verdict.

“Get out the champagne,” Markel’s mother Ruth said. “2022 has really started to move forward for our family in a very positive direction. We are really delighted. Of course, Charlie Adelson was arrested; we passed the grandparent legislation this year — (Gov. Ron) DeSantis still has to sign it, but it is the start to a beautiful phase. Prosecutors did a wonderful job; we have to thank the State Attorney’s Office and the community and the media as well.”

While “closure” isn’t a word the Markels use, to Markel’s sister Shelly, this verdict means “a lot of relief, a lot of satisfaction.”

To read the final wrap-up, click here.


@POTUS: To everyone impacted by the horrific elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: We grieve with you. We pray with you. We stand with you. And we’re committed to turning this pain into action.

Tweet, tweet:

@KKfla737: Another factor working in favor of gun control this time, unlike past mass shootings, is the proximity of the tragedy in Uvalde to the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend, which is traditionally one where politicians circulate among constituents more than any other per my experience.

@Floridaner: My entire family, who are VERY BIG (Donald) Trump supporters, are pissed the NRA did not postpone the meeting and livid that Trump went to the meeting and attacked those who did not have the time to come. They are slowly beginning to support DeSantis over Trump in 2024.

Tweet, tweet:

@TheEliKlein: The Rebekah Jones saga encapsulates why many lifelong Democrats will vote Republican. She was clearly lying about COVID in kids/schools. She was amplified by left-wing media, “experts,” teachers’ unions and politicians. This caused irreparable harm to kids. Truly unconscionable.

@CharlesCWCooke: Local news expert, can you explain to me why the Miami Herald ran a breathless editorial after Jones *applied* for whistleblower status — pretending, absurdly, that it was “a win” — but has not run an editorial on the actual case, which she lost?

@MarcACaputo: Interesting, I got doxxed by a new troll account that echoes some of the talking points about the person I wrote about & who faces a misdemeanor charge for stalking someone online & an unrelated felony charge for hacking into a state system

Tweet, tweet:

@Photoriphy: The worst part about influencer culture is when they haven’t posted in all of 5 minutes, and they’re like, “omg, I’m soo sorry I haven’t been active on here,” as if their followers would die if they don’t know what this person has for lunch or unnecessarily spent money on today.

Tweet, tweet:


‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 2; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 7; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 10; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 17; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 28; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 37; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 49; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 51; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 70; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 78; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 82; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 92; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 92; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 94; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 100; 2022 Emmys — 104; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 128; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 146; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 147; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 147; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 164; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 170; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 174; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 174; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 175; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 183; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 197; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 261; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 279; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 297; 2023 Session Sine Die — 339; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 339; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 367; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 423; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 507; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 668; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 787.


Appellate court strikes down decision to replace Ron DeSantis’ congressional map” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An appellate court shot down a judge’s decision to replace Florida’s congressional map with one drawn by a Harvard professor. Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal determined Leon Circuit Judge Layne Smith erred when he ordered an injunction on the redistricting plan signed into law. Appellate Judge A.S. Tanenbaum, appointed to his seat by DeSantis in 2019, said Smith should not have considered a request for an injunction from the parties suing Florida. Tanenbaum wrote in a decision that he would not even consider whether the map signed by DeSantis in April violates the Florida Constitution.

Back to the drawing board … again.

Ashley Moody sides with DeSantis in redistricting case” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Moody’s office filed a brief with the Florida Supreme Court supporting the congressional map signed by DeSantis. Filed jointly with the Secretary of State’s office, the brief argues that the state should leave behind districts drawn with race as a motivator. “The race-based sorting of voters is an ‘odious’ enterprise,” the brief contends. DeSantis’ Deputy Chief of Staff Alex Kelly crafted a map (P 0109) ultimately passed in Special Session and signed by DeSantis in March. That map controversially dismantles a North Florida district represented now by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson. Black Voters Matter and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit, backed by former Attorney General Eric Holder, which contended that DeSantis’ map diminishes Black communities’ power to elect a candidate of their choice. That would violate the Fair Districts amendment to the Florida Constitution.


‘Free state of Florida’ cracks down on ‘pop-up’ parties” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida police have new powers to break up so-called “pop-up parties” after DeSantis signed HB 1435 Thursday evening. The measure targets gatherings organized via social media on short notice that feature loud partying, cars that inhibit traffic, and often violence. Several episodes in the Daytona Beach area led lawmakers from the region to file the bill, and about two dozen law enforcement agencies supported it. The bill passed 35-3 in the Senate with only three Democrats opposed, but the vote was 83-32 in the House, where more Democrats voted against it. Rep. Anthony Sabatini was the only Republican to vote against it.

Ron DeSantis says the (pop-up) party is over.

Assignment editor — Rep. Anna Eskamani is joining Embrace Families for a virtual event to bring awareness to National Foster Care Month. The program will be streamed on Facebook.

Lobbying compensation: Shumaker Advisors Florida tops $600K in Q1” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Last year, it brought in Alan Suskey to lead the firm’s Tallahassee practice and serve as managing principal of state affairs. This marks the firm’s first full quarter post-Suskey Consulting merger. The ledger shows earnings of $305,000 in the Legislature and $305,000 in the executive branch. Shumaker’s top client for the quarter was Associated Industries of Florida. The so-called “Voice of Florida Business” serves as a trade association for several of the state’s largest corporations. It paid the Shumaker team $50,000 overall, showing up at $25,000 on each report. Five other clients showed up with $30,000 apiece, also split evenly between the legislative and executive reports: Advanced Recovery Systems, the Florida Public Defender Association, the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Scientific Games Corporation, and SD USA.

— 2022 —

Donald Trump widens lead over Joe Biden in 2024 election odds” via Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review-Journal — Trump’s chances to be elected President again in 2024 are the best since he left the White House in January 2021. Trump is the clear betting favorite to win the 2024 U.S. presidential election. He leads the field of candidates with a 26.3% likelihood of winning, which equates to +280, on the Smarkets betting exchange based in the United Kingdom. Biden gets only a 15.1% chance of re-election, which equates to +560.

‘God’s gift to lawyers.’ DeSantis’ culture war laws get him sued a lot” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis hasn’t had any problem pushing his firebrand conservative agenda through the Legislature, scoring national headlines that have propelled him to the top of potential GOP contenders for President in 2024. But some of his biggest priorities, combating what he calls Big Tech censorship, creating a new “anti-riot” law, and banning so-called sanctuary cities, have hit a wall in the courts with key provisions blocked.

Ron DeSantis is a lawyer’s dream.

Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried, Annette Taddeo trade jabs but hit ‘autocrat’ DeSantis harder during public forum” Bianca Padró Ocasio and Anna Wiler of the Miami Herald — Trading zingers on their connections to the Republican Party and the NRA, the three leading Democrats running for Florida Governor pitched their case for why they’re most likely to beat DeSantis during a Saturday night forum in South Florida. But in a state where Republicans have made historic gains on voter registration and incumbent DeSantis has topped a staggering $100 million in campaign contributions for his re-election bid, the candidates focused most of their time on drawing contrasts to DeSantis’ record. “We are running against an autocrat who is trying to create an autocracy.,” U.S. Rep. Crist told the audience of more than 100 at the forum in North Miami Beach’s Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater.

Assignment editors — Crist will make a major announcement, 10 a.m., Miami Gardens. They will livestream the news conference via Crist’s Facebook page. RSVP at [email protected]

Fried embraces underdog status in race to take on DeSantis” via Mica Soellner of The Washington Times — Fried has accused the Governor of using his office to pursue larger political ambitions and peddling culture wars that have distracted work on other issues facing Floridians. The Commissioner also made headlines for suing the Biden administration over a rule that barred medical marijuana patients from purchasing guns. Fried has defended her actions by saying there was a disparity between medical marijuana users and those on other pharmaceutical pills and opioids who could still get firearms. Fried said if she is elected, her biggest priorities would be to tackle the rising cost of housing, enhance education standards, and expand access to health care. On her first day, Fried pledged to declare a state of emergency on housing.

Not sure what’s going on here:

Tatiana Fernandez seeks to help in CD 7” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — As a single mother raising a disabled daughter and establishing her small businesses, Democratic congressional candidate Fernandez realized two things: there was help available, and that no one was going to give it to her unless she knew to ask. And how to ask. Repeatedly, she rejected bad advice for second-rate services while getting her daughter top medical care and more. That’s because she had done her homework and knew there was better available. Unlike typical congressional candidates, she is not running for Congress to pursue issues or promote partisan agendas. Yes, she is a Democrat and will deliver on a Democratic platform. But she said she believes that the job she wants should focus on making sure existing federal services and resources get used effectively, not on trying to get them increased.

Thuy Lowe files for another run in CD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republican Lowe, who ran against Demings in the 2016 election that launched Demings into Congress, has filed for another try now that the Democrat is stepping away and the district has been redrawn. Lowe, a longtime Orange County Republican activist, is at least sticking her toe into the crowded Republican Primary Election pool for CD 10, which currently lacks a clear GOP front-runner. For now, Lowe said her entry is exploratory. She insisted she is not concerned about the Republican competition, but whether there is a decent chance for her to win the General Election. She said her team is still assessing the prospects of flipping the district now that it has been redrawn and that Demings has decided to run for the Senate.

Thuy Lowe steps into the ring again.

‘A champion for hospitality workers’: Major South Florida union backs Ken Russell for Congress” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — On Thursday, Russell’s campaign announced the endorsement of Unite Here Local 355, which represents nearly 7,000 hotel, airport, casino, stadium and restaurant employees across South Florida between Homestead, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers and the coastline. “Ken has been a champion for hospitality workers, making sure they are paid living wages and treated with the dignity they deserve,” Unite Here Local 355 Political Director Mike Hill said. “(We are) proud to endorse Ken Russell for U.S. Congress.” The nod from Unite Here marks the fifth union endorsement Russell has received since launching his campaign on May 1 to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. María Elvira Salazar in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

— MORE 2022 —

Seven intriguing legislative races to watch as the 2022 campaign season gets underway” via Brian Burgess and Jordan Kirkland of The Capitolist — With just two weeks left until the candidate filing deadline for the 2022 election, the electoral landscape is starting to come into sharper focus, particularly for state legislative races, where some crowded primaries will make for a long, hot summer of intense campaigning. For the luckier candidates, only token, or in some cases, no opposition, means a cakewalk through the General Election. But until the deadline, candidates will keep a wary eye on the Division of Elections website, watching for that last-minute filing that could mean the difference between smooth sailing or rough seas.

Paul Renner backs Ralph Massullo for another term in HD 23” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Rep. Massullo, his House District 23 re-election race all but stripped of serious challengers, received an endorsement Tuesday from incoming Speaker Renner. “Dr. Ralph Massullo has been a strong, conservative voice for keeping Florida free and prosperous,” Renner said. “He is a leader in the Florida House, and I am counting on him to fight alongside Gov. DeSantis. I am excited to endorse Rep. Massullo’s re-election, and I look forward to welcoming him back to Tallahassee to continue our mission of making Florida the best state for children, families, and workers to succeed.”

Renner endorses Tom Leek for re-election” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — House Speaker-Designate Renner has endorsed Rep. Leek in House District 28. “We need principled conservatives like Tom Leek in Tallahassee. I am proud to serve with Tom and honored to call him a friend and ally in the fight for making Florida the best state for children, families, and workers to succeed,” said Renner. Renner’s endorsement comes as Leek faces Liberty Caucus member Alex Newman in the Republican Primary for the newly reconfigured HD 28. Leek has also received a nod from DeSantis.

Tom Leek gets an enormous boost for re-election.

Happening tomorrow:

Lauderdale Lakes Mayor ahead in Commission race to represent central Broward County” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The Mayor of Lauderdale Lakes and former Democratic state Representative is well ahead in the money race to add another title to her name: Broward County Commissioner. Hazelle Rogers, running as a Democrat again, added $15,255 to her campaign kitty in April, bringing the total she’s raised for her bid to represent District 9 to $71,772. In April, Rogers received the maximum $1,000 donation 11 times, with retirees and a smattering of business interests propelling her campaign.


After landfall, odds at 50% for Pacific hurricane’s rebirth as Atlantic season’s first tropical system” via Roger Simmons, Lisa Maria Garza and Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — The remnants of a Category 2 hurricane that struck Mexico from the Pacific on Monday have higher odds of reforming once its passes into either the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico later this week. The National Hurricane Center said the odds of tropical development of what would be the Atlantic hurricane season’s first system over the next five days is at 50% as of its 8 p.m. tropical outlook. Hurricane Agatha made landfall Monday afternoon near Puerto Angel, Mexico, with 105 mph winds. After the storm moves over land and eventually dissipates, it could reform into a system with the potential to become Tropical Storm Alex.

Charlie Lydecker to help steer state’s insurer of last resort” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has appointed the CEO and co-founder of one of the nation’s largest commercial insurance companies to the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors. Lydecker started Foundation Risk Partners in 2017. The company has since become one of the nation’s 20 largest commercial insurers with 120 locations across the country, Patronis’ office said. The company’s headquarters are in Daytona Beach. Patronis praised the skills that Lydecker will bring to his new role. Lydecker will be replacing Marc Dunbar of Leon County, whose term expires this year.

Charlie Lydecker is the big gun to help Citizens regain its footing.

Amid property-insurance crisis, mobile-home owners and hurricane shelters get some attention” via Laura Cassels of the Florida Phoenix — Overshadowed by the statewide crisis in Florida’s property insurance market, legislation to make mobile homes and manufactured homes safer during strong storms was signed into law Wednesday. Sponsored by Palm Beach County Democrat Matt Willhite, HB 837 extends the life of Florida’s “Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program.” In addition, the proposed 2022-23 budget, if approved, appropriates $7 million in the coming budget year to inspect and improve tie-downs proven to make mobile homes and manufactured homes less vulnerable to hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding. Secure tie-downs help such homes stay anchored during intense storms. According to legislative analyses, the aid is so in demand that there is a five-year waiting list of applicants.

Report rejects Rebekah Jones’ claim that Florida doctored COVID-19 data” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times — A claim by Jones that her bosses at the Florida Department of Health intentionally falsified COVID-19 case data as DeSantis was attempting to reopen the state is unfounded, according to an internal inspector general’s report conducted by her former agency. “Based upon an analysis of the available evidence, the alleged conduct, as described by the complainant, did not occur,” the report said, referring to that allegation in Jones’ whistleblower complaint. Two other allegations by Jones that higher-ups issued directives to falsify COVID-19 positivity rates, were deemed “unsubstantiated” because “based upon an analysis of the available evidence, there is insufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the alleged conduct.”

Thousands in Florida have had guns seized through risk protection orders since 2018” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — The orders, which are sometimes referred to as “red flag orders,” were made part of Florida law weeks after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. In Florida, they’ve become routine in the state court system. They’re touted as an effective, albeit imperfect, means of preventing tragedies. When judges approve the orders, cops sometimes find no guns to seize. Other times, they find an arsenal. People subjected to the orders are barred from having anything to do with a gun for a year. If they don’t comply, they could face a felony charge. They are often ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation, though the law does not specify what that entails.

After Parkland, Florida used social-emotional learning to help students. That’s over” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Miami Herald — Florida faced a crisis after the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Many argued that a key to preventing another murderous attack was to identify children’s mental health needs better and provide services before any problems grew out of control. The Republican-led state government poured resources into those efforts, passing laws intended to “reduce the likelihood of at-risk students developing social, emotional, or behavioral health problems, depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal tendencies, or substance use disorders.” School districts complied, submitting detailed plans to bring social-emotional learning into classrooms. As Floridians reflected on last week’s shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school, some wondered if the government’s move away from these concepts is a step in the wrong direction.

Disastrous Cuban sugar harvest could mean an even larger Cuban migrant exodus” via Tim Padgett of WLRN — As a record number of Cuban migrants are showing up on the U.S. border and Florida coast this year to escape their island’s repression and economic crisis, there’s now another reason to expect even more of them, and it’s about sugar. Cuba this week is reporting its worst sugar-cane harvest since 1905. The official communist regime newspaper Granma concedes the island reaped considerably less than half a million tons. That’s only about half what officials had forecast, and it’s less than half the sugar-cane Cuba harvested last year. Officials blame the result on shortages of the fertilizer and fuel that Cuba must import, caused by its severe economic crisis. This year’s disastrous harvest will only add to that financial emergency since sugar is still one of Cuba’s key exports.

Sea turtle nesting season off to a strong start on Atlantic beaches” via Patrick Connolly of the Orlando Sentinel — Leatherbacks, loggerheads and green sea turtles have returned to Florida’s Atlantic coast for their annual egg-laying ritual, and these ancient reptiles seem off to a strong start. As sea turtle nesting season gets into full swing, researchers are busy counting nests and tagging turtles for further study. In Brevard County, including Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group has counted 68 leatherback nests, 2,776 loggerhead nests and two green turtle nests.


Bidens visit Uvalde, a city in mourning” via Peter Jamison, Amy B Wang, Teo Armus and Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post — President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden paid their respects here Sunday amid a sea of flowers, coming face to face with oversize photos of the 19 children and two teachers killed during the massacre at Robb Elementary School. The first couple stood in silence, reading the victims’ names and touching each portrait ringed with white roses. Nearby, white crosses staked into the ground outside the school were painted with the names of each of the victims. Jill Biden placed her hand gently on some photos as if to pat the children on their shoulders. The President wiped away a tear. On Sunday, they traveled to Uvalde to follow a familiar ritual after an American massacre: praying, trying to comfort victims’ families and survivors, and meeting with first responders.

The Bidens travel to Texas to pay tribute. Image via AP.

Biden, cops and advocates forged deal on police and race” via The Associated Press — Jim Pasco, the executive director for the Fraternal Order of Police, was watching football on a Sunday afternoon when he got a call from Susan Rice, the top domestic policy adviser at the White House. Negotiations over an executive order to address racism and policing were in danger of breaking down after a draft was leaked that law enforcement groups believed was too harsh toward officers. “She said they wanted to start over,” Pasco said as he looked back on that day earlier this year. “And they wanted to deal with us in total confidence.” He agreed. The result was the executive order that Biden signed last week during a ceremony that, improbably, brought together law enforcement leaders, civil rights activists and families of people who police had killed.

Republicans beat the gun lobby. Congress hasn’t followed.” via Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post — Not long ago, GOP lawmakers bucked ferocious pressure from the NRA to pass significant new gun restrictions after a deadly school shooting, which were then signed into law by a fiercely conservative Republican. It just didn’t happen in Washington. Three weeks after 17 people were gunned down in 2018 inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, then-Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that included provisions banning weapons sales to those younger than 21, imposing a three-day waiting period on most long-gun purchases, and creating a “red flag” law allowing authorities to confiscate weapons from people deemed to constitute a public threat. The NRA’s leader in the state, Marion Hammer, condemned Republicans backing the bill as “betrayers.”

Latest White House plan would forgive $10,000 in student debt per borrower” via Tyler Pager, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel and Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — White House officials are currently planning to cancel $10,000 in student debt per borrower, after months of internal deliberations over how to structure loan forgiveness for tens of millions of Americans, three people with knowledge of the matter said. Biden had hoped to make the announcement as soon as this weekend at the University of Delaware commencement, the people said, but that timing has changed after the massacre Tuesday in Texas.

Fact-checking Marco Rubio claim that no guns used in mass shootings were bought online” via PolitiFact — U.S. Sen. Rubio said stringent gun regulations would not prevent crimes like the May 24 shooting in Uvalde, Texas. “There hasn’t been a single of these mass shootings that have been purchased at a gun show or on the internet,” Rubio said on May 25. There have been 66 mass public shootings from 1999 to 2013. PolitiFact found several instances where a perpetrator of a high-profile shooting obtained their weapons at a gun show or on the internet. In 1999, for example, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the individuals behind the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, acquired their firearms at a gun show with the help of an 18-year-old classmate.

Governors diverge on gun control, school security efforts” via The Associated Press — As the U.S. mourns the victims of its latest mass shooting, 19 elementary school students and two teachers gunned down in Texas, Democratic Governors are amplifying their calls for greater restrictions on guns. Many Republican Governors are emphasizing a different solution: more security at schools. Should people younger than 21 be prohibited from buying semi-automatic guns? Should ammunition magazines be limited to no more than 10 bullets? Many Democratic Governors said “yes.” Among Republican Governors who responded, only Vermont Gov. Phil Scott expressed support for such gun control efforts.

Trump’s federal suit against New York A.G. is dismissed” via Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Jonah E. Bromwich of The New York Times — In the latest legal blow to Trump, a federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit the former President filed that sought to halt the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into his business practices. In a federal court in Albany, the ruling was Trump’s second defeat related to the investigation in two days. On Thursday, an appellate court ordered Trump and two of his children to sit for questioning under oath from the office of the state Attorney General, Letitia James.

Lawyer who plotted to overturn Trump loss recruits election deniers to watch over the vote” via Alexandra Berzon of The New York Times — Cleta Mitchell, one of the key figures in a failed scheme to overturn Trump’s defeat, was leading a seminar on “election integrity.” Mitchell was among a cadre of Republican lawyers who frantically compiled unsubstantiated accusations, debunked claims, and an array of confusing and inconclusive eyewitness reports to build the case that fraud marred the election. Working with a well-funded network of organizations on the right, including the Republican National Committee, she recruits election conspiracists into an organized cavalry of activists monitoring elections. Mitchell marshals volunteers to stake out election offices, file information requests, monitor voting, work at polling places, and keep detailed records of their work.

Cleta Mitchell is rallying supporters to keep the pressure on overturning Donald Trump’s loss.

Ex-Proud Boys leader Henry Tarrio to stay jailed until Capitol riot trial” via Michael Kuntzelman of the Orlando Sentinel — The former top leader of the Proud Boys will remain jailed while awaiting trial on charges that he conspired with other members of the far-right extremist group to attack the U.S. Capitol and stop Congress from certifying Biden’s presidential victory, a federal judge has ruled. Tarrio poses a danger to the public that cannot be mitigated by home detention and banning him from using social media, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said in an order issued late Friday. Tarrio, a South Florida resident, has been jailed since his arrest on March 8, a day after indictment on charges including conspiracy. A federal magistrate in Miami previously ordered his pretrial detention.


Judge gives initial OK to $1B deal in condo collapse” via The Associated Press — A judge on Saturday gave initial approval to a settlement of more than $1 billion to families who lost loved ones in the collapse last year of a Florida beachfront condominium building in which 98 people died. The quick settlement of the unprecedented collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South building in the early morning hours of June 24, 2021, means that they will avoid potentially years of court battles. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, overseeing the lawsuits filed after the collapse, said during a hearing held remotely it was the best possible outcome given the loss of life and property in the disaster. “It is a great result,” Hanzman said before giving preliminary approval to the agreement announced Friday. “This was a very contested deal.”

Surfside victims and families get the green light for a $1B settlement.

Broward mom channels grief over loss of son into mission to discourage veterans’ suicides” via Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald — Janos “John” Lutz was 19 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps out of high school, aiming to do his part for his country in the aftermath of the 911 terrorist attacks. In January 2013, he overdosed on morphine and a powerful sedative, leaving a note on his bedroom door that said, “Do not resuscitate.” He was 24. About 17 veterans a day commit suicide in the United States. In Florida, 550 veterans died by suicide in 2019, the most recent statistic available from the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. For Janine Lutz, the answer lies in veterans connecting with other veterans in their local community. She founded Cpl. Janos V. Lutz Live to Tell Foundation, which offers programs for veterans with PTSD.

In South Florida, and the nation, few top cops are women. There’s a push to change that” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — In the 126-year history of the Miami Police Department, Cherise Gause is one of only two women to achieve the rank of assistant chief. Over nearly three decades with the largest municipal police department in Florida, she rose from a police dispatcher to oversee 1,000 officers in field operations, lead criminal investigations and manage the agency’s $276 million budget. A year ago, she was among the final candidates to replace a retiring chief when Mayor Francis Suarez pulled a flashy surprise, instead handpicking Art Acevedo, who wound up fired after a short, tumultuous tenure. Gause is far from alone. For many highly qualified women, breaking the brass ceiling, the military and law enforcement equivalent of the glass ceiling, remains an elusive goal. Women have made major strides in law enforcement over the past few decades, winning promotions to commanders, majors and deputy chiefs, even chiefs. Another woman, for instance, actually won the Tampa job.

Despite flight cancellations on Memorial Day, MIA registers record numbers of passengers” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — Torrential rains led to at least 100 flight cancellations in and out of Miami International Airport on Monday, but the airport still registered record numbers of passengers this holiday weekend, even higher than those recorded before the pandemic-driven paralysis of travel. As of Monday morning, 68 arrivals and 38 departures had been canceled at MIA mostly due to Sunday’s stormy weather, said Greg Chin, the communications director for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department. Flights got diverted to other airports, he said. The local cancellations were part of a larger nationwide trend of travel disruption due to foul weather across the northeast and southeast. Nearly 400 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were canceled Monday, and at least 1,700 were delayed.

South Florida starts summer tourism season. Will the usual discounts arrive?” via Anna Jean Kaiser of the Miami Herald — Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer travel, which traditionally in South Florida means low season, reduced hotel rates and resident discounts on lodging, meals and various recreational activities. With inflation, increased hospitality labor costs and Miami being one of the most-visited destinations in the United States, tourism businesses have little incentive to lower their prices this summer as they’ve typically done before the pandemic. “Since the pandemic, the typical cycle with high and low in southeast Florida has completely changed,” said Christian Glauser Benz, the senior vice president of development for Dream Hotel Group. “The city’s becoming a yearlong destination,” he said.

Summer tourism is coming. Will the deals be there?

Fort Lauderdale judge orders pastor at First Baptist Church to talk to dissenting members he sought to banish“ via Noreen Marcus of Florida Bulldog — A Broward judge answered the prayers of estranged First Baptist Church members by giving them a chance to reclaim their pews and place in Fort Lauderdale’s oldest religious community. Last month Lead Pastor James Welch and church officials defeated in-house opponents in a court contest. Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson ordered church leaders to arbitrate their dispute with a group called Concerned Members of First Baptist Church. The Institute for Christian Conciliation (ICC) will referee. Concerned Members include up to 200 congregants expelled by First Baptist in April 2021. They had questioned Welch’s domination of the steepled landmark at Broward Boulevard and Northeast Third Avenue downtown.


Chair’s charge in ‘ghost’ candidate probe shines harsh spotlight on Seminole Republican Party” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s 2020 “ghost” candidate scandal this week embroiled Seminole County’s political establishment when authorities announced that Ben Paris, the county’s Republican Party chair and Longwood’s former Mayor, faced a misdemeanor charge for violating election law. In addition to running the local party, Paris has close ties to one of the county’s most powerful elected officials: Sen. Jason Brodeur, who runs the Seminole County Chamber and hires Paris there in 2019. Paris resigned as the group’s vice president Tuesday.

Ben Paris is the latest to be entangled in the ghost candidate scheme, which is not a good look for the local GOP.

Sheriff charges man, 18, with threatening ‘the nearest school’” via Thomas C. Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday arrested an 18-year-old man accused of making an online threat by suggesting he was armed and headed to “the nearest school.” The Sheriff’s Office said that Corey Anderson was arrested at a residence in Lutz and charged with threatening to “conduct a mass shooting or act of terrorism. After a tip, detectives found that Anderson had posted images of himself with what appeared to be a handgun, a rifle, and a tactical-style vest, deputies said. The caption said, “Hey Siri, directions to the nearest school.” Deputies said that the items appearing to be weapons were later discovered to be airsoft guns.

North Central Florida school district scores drop in latest Florida Standards Assessment” via WCJB — Newly released Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) results for English Language Arts Grade 3 show a drop in statewide scores. In North Central Florida, most school districts also reported lower scores. The Florida Department of Education reported the percentage of students who scored an Achievement Level 3 or above in each school district. Statewide, the percentage dropped from 54% in 2021 to 53% in 2022. In Alachua County, 50% of students scored at or above level three. That’s 2% less than last year and 7% less than 2019 before the pandemic. Union County reported the largest year-over-year decline in North Central Florida, falling seven points to 56%. Bradford County dropped six points to 45%. Columbia County reported 56%, a decline of four points. Levy County dropped by two points to 49%.

All Children’s Hospital is always preparing for the unthinkable” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — A doctor dedicated to saving children, Megan Martin shared in the nation’s horror and grief when 19 students and two teachers were shot and killed Tuesday at a Texas elementary school. But as the pediatric emergency medicine physician for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, that very scenario has played out in her head dozens of times. It’s her job to prepare the hospital and her colleagues should the unthinkable happen here. All Children’s Hospital is one of five Florida hospitals designated as pediatric trauma centers. In the event of a school shooting in Pinellas County, it will likely be the primary destination for wounded children.

Orlando Museum of Art: We’ll ‘cooperate’ with FBI in Jean-Michel Basquiat probe” via Matthew J. Palm of the Orlando Sentinel — In a late-night email, an Orlando Museum of Art spokeswoman said Sunday the institution would “continue to cooperate” with the FBI as the agency investigates the authenticity of works purportedly by Basquiat on view in a high-profile exhibition, even as the works are set to leave the museum, and the country, a year earlier than initially planned. “Heroes and Monsters,” an exhibit of works supposedly sold by Basquiat before his death in 1988 and then left languishing in a storage locker for decades, opened to great fanfare in February. But a New York Times article quickly raised questions about the authenticity of the works.


LCSO investigates Friday evening antisemitic incident at two separate malls” via Tomas Rodriguez of the Fort Myers News-Press — The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a string of antisemitic incidents at two separate shopping malls. Leaflets were dropped between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Shoppers at Coconut Point and Miromar Outlets were targeted during the incident. Capt. Anita Iriarte, a spokesperson for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, said she can’t get a report at least until Tuesday, but confirmed they are actively investigating flyers placed on cars Friday evening at Coconut Point and Miromar Outlets. The leaflets displayed derogatory terminology toward the Jewish community and referred to DeSantis as their “glorious leader.” As a matter of policy, The News-Press doesn’t repeat antisemitic statements.

Coconut Point shoppers get a rude surprise.

Bigfoot/Skunk Ape conference coming to Punta Gorda” via Nancy J. Semon of the Punta Gorda Sun — A paranormal expert brings some heavy hitters to her conference on the Florida skunk ape and Bigfoot. Phyllis Csaszar, founder of a UFO group and a paranormal network, said the all-day conference would run from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on June 4 at the Bayfront YMCA in Punta Gorda. It will feature stars from documentary films and TV shows dealing with the legends of Bigfoot and the Florida skunk ape. Several authors, a law enforcement paranormal investigator, and radio and podcast hosts will also be on hand. A highlight at noon will be when first responders from Charlotte County fire and EMS Station 8 will be invited to come for lunch and receive a plaque. Their engine is named “The Skunk Ape.”

Frogs taking over Fort Myers sports complex” via Elisia Alonso of NBC 2 — Visitors at the Sam Fleishmann Sports Complex watch their steps when walking on the grounds. This week athletes noticed hundreds of baby frogs throughout the park and complex. “They’re all over the court. We were trying to not step on them and kind of shoo them off into the grass,” said Steve McDonald of Fort Myers. Families practicing in the baseball fields on Monday say the babies pop up every year but have never been this many before. Visitors worry the frogs are invasive and could be poisonous to animals. They suggest walking on sidewalks and paved roads, as well as keeping an eye on pets when visiting.


Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams doesn’t live in Duval and might violate city law” via Andrew Pantazi of The Tributary — Williams sold his Jacksonville home and moved to suburban Nassau County more than a year ago even as he continued serving as Duval County’s sheriff, potentially violating a city law that requires him to leave office if he moves out of the county. Jacksonville’s charter requires the sheriff to live in Duval County, and “if the sheriff should … remove his residence from Duval County during his term of office … the office of sheriff shall become vacant.” In that case, the sheriff must notify the City Council and the elections supervisor that he has left the office, and the City Council would schedule a Special Election. The Governor could appoint an interim sheriff in the meantime.

Mike Williams has a not-so-small residency problem. Image via News4Jax.

Leon County Commissioner and Fort Braden School Principal Jimbo Jackson dies” via Lynn Hatter of WFSU — Leon County Commissioner and Fort Braden School Principal Jackson died early Saturday due to complications from long COVID-19. He was 55 years old. “Today, our County Commission and this entire community mourn the loss of a colleague, treasured educator, friend, and true leader,” said Leon County Commission Chair Bill Proctor. In 2020, Jackson was diagnosed with COVID-19, and it eventually became what physicians are now diagnosing as long COVID-19. “We had been told within the last couple of days that things were not looking good,” said County Commissioner Kristin Dozier. “We knew Jimbo was in a hard spot, and it was a call we never wanted to get.”

Jimbo Jackson was a much-loved educator and a thorn in the side of Ron DeSantis. Image via Our Tallahassee.


Red-flag laws can save lives” via David French of The Atlantic — Here’s the bottom-line reality you need to know, from a National Institute of Justice-funded study of 50 dreadful years of mass killings:

Persons who committed public mass shootings in the U.S. over the last half-century were commonly troubled by personal trauma before their shooting incidents, nearly always in a state of crisis at the time, and, in most cases, engaged in leaking their plans before opening fire. Most were insiders of a targeted institution, such as an employee or student. Except for young school shooters who stole guns from family members, most used legally obtained handguns in those shootings.

I own guns. I’m an advocate of gun rights. The first essay I wrote for The Atlantic explained why I carry a gun. But I still support red-flag laws. Why?

First, they’re driven by evidence and tailored to address a precise crisis. A red-flag law would apply in most mass shooting situations, permit police to seize weapons, and provide a breathing space that could permit rigorous mental evaluation.

Second, they don’t require citizens to trust the police. Third, they fit neatly within American law and tradition. Fourth, they have bipartisan support.


Gunman in ____ kills __” via Alex Kingsbury of The New York Times — The tightknit community of ______ was shaken to its core today when a gunman went on a rampage that lasted __ minutes and killed ____ adults and ____ children. Police said that an additional ____ people were wounded in the country’s __th mass shooting of the month and ___th of the year. Authorities have identified the gunman as _________, a __ -year-old from ______. The motivation for the attack, as best the police can determine so far, was ____________. It echoes mass shootings this year in _________, ________ and ________. The gun used in the massacre was a ________, the same type of weapon used in mass killings this year in ________ _, ___________ and, most notoriously, __________.

Texas school shooting should end constitutional carry law in Florida” via The Palm Beach Post editorial board — It shouldn’t take a devastating shooting at an elementary school in faraway Texas to get DeSantis to do the right thing. Don’t worry; he hasn’t, and he won’t. Instead of strengthening Florida gun laws, “constitutional carry” remains on his wish list. Under a constitutional carry law, a person who legally owns a firearm may carry it in public, concealed or openly displayed. Registering the firearm, mandatory training, and licensing are not required. DeSantis has been dropping loud hints about constitutional carry since February, when he told an audience at Mar-a-Lago that he expected the Florida Legislature to hold a Special Session on the issue this year.

Let not our hearts grow numb” via Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal — We underestimate how demoralizing these shootings are. They hurt our faith in America (why can’t we handle this?) and the future (what will it be like if this continues?). And there’s the new part of the story that is disturbing, this sense — we’ve had it before — that the police reliably come to the scene, but they’ve got some process or procedure that keeps them from fighting their way to the actual site of the shooting. Conservatives were quick to criticize Biden in his speech the night of the shootings, saying he didn’t “bring us together” and “heal the nation’s wounds.” But what exactly could he say, could any President say at this point, that will bring us together and heal the wounds? They were faulting him for the impossible.

Florida’s census undercount is nothing short of robbery, with Trump partly to blame” via the Miami Herald editorial board — We learned last week that Florida’s population was undercounted in the 2020 U.S. Census, and that may have cost the state untold sums of money from the federal government as well as another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. That’s especially infuriating because we were warned this might happen. Yet, we couldn’t stop it. Now all Floridians will have to pay the price for the entire next decade. And much of the blame must be placed on Trump and the norm-busting behavior he gloried in. Even though Trump eventually failed to get the citizenship question included, his administration did succeed in ending the national head count early. And his actions surely squelched participation by stoking fears in immigrant communities.

Rubio’s flippant attitude after Texas school shooting should cost Florida senator his job” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — Widely respected polls show that the majority of Americans support some type of gun control — and reject the idea peddled by Republicans like Rubio that no arms regulation can prevent school shootings. And he doubled down later in the week as details of the killings became known, providing evidence that, indeed, the Republican “good guy with a gun” theory can’t stop a killer unleashing upon innocents weapons made for war. Mass shootings don’t happen in countries that regulate gun ownership. And when they do, they’re curtailed in civilized societies such as New Zealand, which immediately banned assault weapons after back-to-back mass shootings, and terrorist attacks on two mosques, in 2019.

Crist’s flawed debate strategy must change” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Crist is clearly the man to beat in the Democratic primary for Governor. But Crist has made a tired and age-old calculation: As a front-runner, he figures he can only lose by giving lesser-known opponents a platform. So, he has agreed to one hourlong taped TV debate. That’s the wrong decision. Crist told us he’s not the least bit afraid of his Democratic opponents. But he knows that in a debate, Fried is likely to be the aggressor, and will attack the many inconsistencies in Crist’s political past as a Republican who was anti-abortion and pro-gun. Democrats have a better chance if Crist welcomes these challenges. He always looks good on TV, and a televised debate is his best opportunity to talk straight to people about his evolution and his complicated record.

Republicans blame mental health issues for gun violence. So where’s the money for care?” via Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post — America’s exceptionalist gun culture is not the source of our exceptional levels of gun violence and mass shootings, GOP politicians say. Something else must be to blame. Lately, the more politically convenient explanation is mental illness. Never mind, apparently, that mental health advocates have suggested this is a scapegoat. But let’s say these politicians genuinely believe that identifying and treating mental health challenges — rather than, say, restricting access to efficient killing machines — is the key to curbing mass shootings. If that’s the case, why haven’t they put their money where their mouths are? Texas, for instance, ranks last of all 50 states in overall access to mental health care, according to the nonprofit Mental Health America.

— ALOE —

The Mandalorian season 3 comes to Disney Plus in February 2023” via Austen Goslin of Polygon — Grogu and Din Djarin are back for The Mandalorian season 3. Attendees of Star Wars Celebration 2022 got the first preview of the new season, but the rest just got an idea of the release date. The Mandalorian’s next entry will start streaming on Disney Plus in February 2023. According to reports from the Celebration panel, the brief preview of season 3 teases Din Djarin’s trip to Mandalore. He explains that he feels he needs to go there “so I can be forgiven for my transgressions.”

The Mandalorian returns.

Universal: Latest Tribute Store is 1980s time machine” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Universal Studios has restocked its rotating seasonal merchandise store and come up with a big-screen theme. The Tribute Theater is now open for business at the theme park. More specifically, the store has rooms devoted to “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jaws” and “Back to the Future,” three beloved flicks with ride ties to the theme park. They have redecorated each area to go with the film and associated souvenirs. The “E.T.” space looks like Elliott’s bedroom. Translation: Very ‘80s adolescent, down to the orange-striped bedsheets. The décor includes a phonograph, a Magic 8 Ball toy, an Incredible Hulk poster and Speak & Spell, the pivotal and primitive communications device the title alien used for his phone-home needs.

The Florida Orchestra fights back with music from nonbinary composer” via Lauren Peace of the Tampa Bay Times — Dressed in flowy black pants, a white-collared shirt, gold dangling earrings, and silver-toed boots, Ahmed Al Abaca looked out into the audience for The Florida Orchestra’s final show of the 2021-22 season last weekend. The composer flashed a grin and took a bow. Just 20 minutes earlier, Al Abaca had felt waves of anxiety. “I had never gone on stage as my true self like that,” said Al Abaca, whose pronouns are they/them. “I was terrified because, in a place like Florida, I wasn’t sure how people would respond.”

Man in wig throws cake at glass protecting Mona Lisa” via The Associated Press — A man seemingly disguised as an old woman in a wheelchair threw a piece of cake at the glass protecting the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum and shouted at people to think of planet Earth. The Paris prosecutor’s office said Monday that the 36-year-old man was detained following Sunday’s incident and sent to a police psychiatric unit. They have opened an investigation into the damage to cultural artifacts. Videos posted on social media showed a young man in a wig and lipstick who had arrived in a wheelchair. The man, whose identity was unknown, was also seen throwing roses in the museum gallery to slack-jawed guests. The cake attack left a conspicuous white creamy smear on the glass, but the famous work by Leonardo da Vinci wasn’t damaged.


Belated happy birthday wishes to Sean Bevil, Ashley Cate, tailor-to-the-Adams-Street-stars Arron Gober, and Alex Setzer. A special shoutout to my Interfraternity Council brother and dear friend, Scott Ross. Celebrating today are Keith Fernandez and Elizabeth Dos Santos of U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz Balart’s office.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.

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