Under pressure, Nelson beats Rebel retreat — Pence’s ‘cleanup’ tour of Trump’s Venezuela remarks — Rubio helps Diaz in SD40 — 21st charity leaves Mar-a-Lago — RIP Greg Evers


By Marc Caputo ([email protected]; @MarcACaputo) with Raquel Zaldivar ([email protected]; @raqzal), Sergio Bustos ([email protected]; @sbustosFL) and the staff of POLITICO Florida

Good Wednesday morning. If you got a little whiplash yesterday following the news of Sen. Bill Nelson, you have company at the chiropractor’s today. A recap: On Monday evening, the Democrat ducked a question about whether Confederate monuments should be removed from the public square. On Tuesday morning, POLITICO Florida began reporting out a story from fellow Democrats, mostly African-Americans, who were surprised, disappointed or angered by Nelson’s decision to effectively undercut their unified message to remove the monuments. On Tuesday afternoon, after the POLITICO Florida story moved, Nelson clarified his position and said the monuments should go in a museum. That’s a relatively fast response time. But it raises the question: How did Nelson get so out of step with his party on this? Notably, the major Democratic candidates for governor largely ducked and dodged commenting on Nelson’s duck and dodge.

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— “Nelson draws Democrats’ fire for ducking Confederate monument question,” by POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo: Read more.

— “Nelson clarifies position on Confederate monuments after Democratic criticism,” by POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo: Read more.

ST. AUGUSTINE — “‘REMOVE THEM NOW’: Local pastor pushes for removal of Confederate monuments from plaza,” by StAugustine.com’s Jared Keever: Read more

TALLAHASSEE/D.C. — “Henry bill would replace Confederate statue with Mary McLeod Bethune,” by the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Mark Harper: Read more

BRADENTON — “Confederate monument to be moved to another location,” by the Herald-Tribune’s Dale White: Read more

WEST PALM — “West Palm removes Confederate monument from city cemetery,” by the Palm Beach Post’s Eliot Kleinberg: Read more

… TRUMPLANDIA AND THE SWAMP THINGS …

MORE LOSING — “21st charity moves event from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach,” by the Palm Beach Post’s Shelly Darby: “The list keeps growing. The Unicorn Children’s Foundation announced today it was moving a planned fashion show luncheon from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. That brings to 21 the number of charities that have decided to leave Mar-a-Lago in recent months, many in the past week. Nineteen of those organizations held events there during the last social season.” Read more

CLEANUP TOUR “Pence will try to escape long shadow of Trump’s military talk on Venezuela,” by Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei: “The uncomfortable but inevitable question that dogged Vice President Mike Pence everywhere he went in Latin America last week will trail him to Miami on Wednesday: Is President Donald Trump really considering potential military action in Venezuela? Pence tried over and over again to say no — without actually uttering the word or outright contradicting Trump — during his recent swing through Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama, where regional allies publicly rebuked the notion of any U.S. intervention. The vice president’s cleanup tour will conclude Wednesday in Doral, home to the largest Venezuelan immigrant community in the U.S.” Read more

— “Activists push for TPS for Venezuelans but how viable is that option, really?” by the Miami Herald’s Brenda Medina: Read more

MAKING ENVIRONMENT GREAT AGAIN — “Local officials worry about proposed Trump budget cuts to EPA,” by POLITICO Florida’s Bruce Ritchie: “A trio of south Florida local elected officials warned Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s proposed FY 2018 federal budget would decimate programs that affect Florida water quality and tourism. In a conference call hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund, the mayors of Monroe County, the Village of Key Biscayne and Naples warned that spending cuts for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could threaten Florida’s economy. “We could not function without the expertise and assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency,” said George Neugent, Monroe County’s mayor. “To think that this administration would cut the funding to the administration that is so important to maintain the capabilities the EPA provides to us would be devastating and a disappointment.” Read more

AT ODDS — “Florida, U.S. produce growers deeply divided over NAFTA,” by POLITICO’s Helena Bottemiller Evich and Catherine Boudreau: The produce industry is at war with itself over a protectionist proposal the Trump administration is preparing to submit in the NAFTA talks that exposes a deep regional fault line among growers. Southeastern produce growers struggling to compete with cheaper Mexican imports have long lobbied for relief under NAFTA, with little to show for it. Now, with few agricultural groups calling for significant changes to the pact, the “America First” Trump administration has seized on the plight of southeastern produce growers, putting their concerns at the forefront of the national trade agenda. Read more

BLUFFED — “Trump administration: Miami-Dade rail funds were never at risk over ‘sanctuary’ policies,” by the Miami Herald’s Douglas Hanks: “Justice Department lawyers say Miami-Dade had nothing to fear over losing federal transportation funds if the county didn’t back President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown earlier this year, writing in a court filing that only security and crime-fighting federal aid would be withheld from ‘sanctuary’ communities. Mayor Carlos Gimenez cited the possibility of receiving billions of dollars from the Trump administration for an historic rail expansion in defending his January decision to change county policy and begin accepting federal detention requests for immigration offenders at local jails.” Read more

RUBIO FOR PEPI State Rep. Jose ‘Pepi’ Diaz is featuring Sen. Marco Rubio on vote-by-mail requests forms he’s mailing in the special election for Florida’s 40th Senate District, which is a make-or-break election for Democrats this year after they had their shirts handed to them in November. At first blush, the Senate district looks like a good Democratic district because Hillary Clinton carried it by more than 16 points v. Donald Trump (years ago, Diaz appeared on his show “The Apprentice”). But Rubio won the Miami-area district by just three points in a county that went deep blue for Democrats. SD40’s most reliable Republican voters are also Cuban-American, so there was little thought of having anyone but Rubio headline this first wave of mail requests that should arrive at people’s homes this week. The mail piece is here.

MARCO’S MOVES — One of the raps on Sen. Marco Rubio during his presidential run is that he did too little for fellow Republicans in Florida and made too few stops in the Sunshine State. Message received. Rubio is spending his summer break helping out Republicans in Seminole County (where he headlined a Reagan Dinner) and in Miami (where he’s making an appearance at a fundraiser for Rep. Carlos Curbelo and is helping get out the vote efforts for state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz’s state Senate campaign (as noted above and here). Don’t be surprised if he joins Vice President Mike Pence today in South Florida.

DEBBIE ON DEFENSE — “Wasserman Schultz meets the press over Imran Awan case,” by the Sun Sentinel’s Anthony Man: “U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Tuesday that nothing has happened to change her belief that she did the right thing by keeping an information technology aide on the payroll long after other members of Congress fired him when they learned he was under investigation. Imran Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, were indicted last week in Washington, D.C., on four counts of bank fraud and unlawful monetary transactions. ‘He’s not my staffer. He no longer works for me. And when he was arrested, I terminated him,’ she said. ‘I kept him on the payroll during the time that he was not arrested and not charged with anything. And that was because, as I said, that I was concerned about the violation of his due process rights and also that there were racial and ethnic profiling concerns as well.’” Read more

HOW TO LOSE BIG 101 — “Patrick Murphy to serve as fellow at Georgetown University,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy this fall will serve as a fellow at Georgetown University, focusing on politics and public service. One class that Murphy plans on teaching will focus on engaging political issues with millennials, an issue that has become one of focus for the Palm Beach County Democrat since his failed 2016 U.S. Senate bid. Read more

… PENINSULA AND BEYOND …

CORRUPTION FALLOUT — “Tallahassee lobbyist Adam Corey drops clients,” by POLITICO Florida’s Daniel Ducassi: Tallahassee lobbyist and businessman Adam Corey dropped all of his state lobbying clients this week. Corey on Monday withdrew as a lobbyist for American Clinical Solutions, Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers, PNC Financial Services Group, Broward College Foundation and San Felasco Nurseries, according to state records. So did Ralph Schwarz, who works for Corey’s firm, Unconventional Strategies. Corey, who was recently named in a federal subpoena related to an FBI investigation of Tallahassee’s Community Redevelopment Agency, did not respond to a request for comment. Read more

— “Jackson files ethics complaint against city manager,” by the Tallahassee Democrat’s Jeff Burlew: “Local businessman Erwin Jackson filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics alleging City Manager Rick Fernandez violated the law when he accepted a $4,761 catering discount from the city-backed Edison restaurant. The complaint also says Fernandez rewarded a former Edison worker for the discount by getting him a job at the city and that he accepted Florida State University football tickets for lobbyist Adam Corey’s skybox at Doak Campbell Stadium. Corey is a co-owner of The Edison. Fernandez said last week he expects ‘a positive outcome after all the facts are fully vetted.’ He denied ever accepting FSU football tickets from Corey.” Read more

MEDICAID MOVES — “AHCA floats for-profit friendly Low Income Pool proposal,” by POLITICO Florida’s Christine Sexton: For-profit health systems fare better than their community-owned counterparts under proposed plans to spend supplemental Medicaid dollars put together by state Agency for Health Care Administration. One proposal assumes that the state will have an $825 million Low Income Pool program — less than the $1.5 billion authorized by the Trump administration. The other plan assumes full funding. In the $825 million proposal, Jackson Memorial Hospital contributes nearly $56 million but draws down only $48.6 million in returning federal matching funds. Community Health System-owned Bayfront Health, St. Petersburg, conversely, would put up no local dollars but receive $2.9 million in LIP funds under the plan. LIP provides payments to hospitals for the care of patients without health insurance. Read more

RIP —“Evers killed in crash Monday night,” by POLITICO Florida’s Bruce Ritchie: Former state Sen. Greg Evers was killed in a car crash on Monday. Evers, a Republican, was involved in a single-car accident Monday night near his home in Baker, said Sarah Bascom, a spokeswoman for the family. She said funeral arrangements will be forthcoming. “The family asks for your prayers as they deal with this sudden loss,” Bascom said. Evers was 62. Gov. Rick Scott and his wife, Ann, issued a statement, saying Evers “will be remembered and missed by all who knew him as the kind, hardworking farmer from Milton who tirelessly fought for Florida families.” Evers, a farmer and small businessman, served in the Senate from 2010 to 2016, when he lost a bid for Congress. He previously served in the House from 2001 to 2010. Read more

FAMILIAR THEME — “Democrats are once again targeting Florida Gov. Rick Scott over his push to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act,” by POLITICO Florida’s Christine Sexton: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced today that it was launching a series of digital ads known as “Google bumper flock ads.” The ad mimics a text conversation between a mother and a child in connection with a medical emergency, and the fact that they lack insurance. Read story here.

SOUTH FLORIDA TIES — “Jury selection begins as Menendez, Melgen pleads not guilty,” by POLITICO New Jersey’s Matt Friedman: The federal corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez got underway Tuesday with jury selection and a not guilty plea by Menendez and his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen. Menendez initially pleaded not guilty in 2015, shortly after he was charged with doing official favors for Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, in exchange for lavish vacations, private jet flights and political contributions. But the New Jersey Democrat succeeded in having some of the counts against him thrown out, leading to a superseding indictment by federal prosecutors to which he and Melgen pleaded not guilty on Tuesday. Read more

LONGSTANDING INJUSTICE — “Broward chief judge leads push to release from jail nonviolent poor who can’t make bail,” by Florida Bulldog’s Dan Christensen: “Concerned that poor people charged with minor, nonviolent offenses who can’t post bond are clogging the jail at taxpayers’ expense, Broward Chief Judge Jack Tuter is spearheading a push to release more of them before trial … Tuter, who took over as chief judge on July 1, said recent Broward jail statistics showed that 321 people were being held on bonds of under $5,000. Low-risk individuals in that group with no other pending charges are the focus of Tuter’s concern. Read more

YUCKY WATER — “Health department issues advisory for four county beaches,” by the Palm Beach Post’s Jorge Milian: “Jupiter Beach Park, Carlin Park, Palm Beach and Lake Worth Beach all showed bacterial levels greater than 71 colonies per 100 milliliters of marine water, putting those beaches in the ‘poor’ category. Water quality is divided into poor, moderate and good ranges, said the Florida Department of Health for Palm Beach County.” Read more

VICTORY — “D.C. appeals court sends Sabal Trail pipeline, others back to FERC,” by POLITICO Florida’s Bruce Ritchie and POLITICO’s Esther Whieldon: Read more

CHESTERVILLE — “Tent camp of homeless sex offenders near Hialeah ‘has got to close,’ county says,” by the Miami Herald’s Douglas Hanks: “Seven years after Miami-Dade County shut down a camp housing about 100 homeless sex offenders under a bridge in Miami, it’s now trying to deal with an encampment on the outskirts of Hialeah that has almost three times as many people registered to live there. Police and social workers on Monday night visited the roughly 30 tents set up near warehouses that sit by railroad tracks outside Hialeah’s city limits, the legally registered homes of almost 300 people convicted of sex offenses against minors and barred from living within 2,500 feet of schools, parks, daycare centers and other places where children congregate.” Read more

… ODDS, ENDS AND FLORIDA MEN …

SATAN’S WIN — “Satanic symbol at park prompts Boca to discuss ban on all displays,” by the Sun Sentinel’s Aric Chokey: “Satanic pentagrams, as well as nativity scenes and menorahs, would be outlawed at Boca Raton’s Sanborn Square if the city approves a ban … Sanborn Square, a city park at 72 N. Federal Highway, hosts an array of events including festivals, yoga classes and art exhibitions. And in December, visitors often can find nativity scenes and other religious holiday displays. But local leaders are rethinking the free-expression zone at the park after a schoolteacher put up a 10-foot pentagram in December.” Read more

— “Exclusive: Kissimmee cop shooting suspect was in ‘downward spiral,’ had PTSD, family and friends say,” by the Orlando Sentinel’s Christal Hayes: Read more

— “Deadly shooting ends friendships forged in neo-Nazi group,” by the AP’s Jason Dearen and Michael Kunzelman: Read more

— “Ormond-by-the-Sea roommate dispute ends in shooting — while deputies were there,” by the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Patricio G. Balona: Read more

— “Report: Woman uses grilling tongs to break into man’s house, wreak havoc,” by the NWF Daily News staff: Read more

— “Florida mother jailed after leaving kids in car while in bar,” by the AP: Read more

— “Lawyers to see Venus Williams’ cellphone data after crash,” by the AP: Read more

— “Tiger Woods threatens to sue website after nude images of him, Lindsey Vonn surface,” by the Orlando Sentinel’s Christie D’Zurilla: Read more

SPINAL TAP! — “It goes to 11: Florida lab sets new magnet strength record,” by the AP’s Gary Fineout: “Engineers at a lab in Florida have been working quietly for the last two and a half years on building the most powerful magnet in the world. And on Monday, they succeeded. The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory — whose main location is housed at Florida State University — met its goal and reclaimed its status as home to the world’s strongest magnet. They called it ‘Project 11,’ a nod to the comedy film ‘This is Spinal Tap’ about a fictional heavy metal band whose guitarist boasts an amplifier that doesn’t go up to 10 but to 11.” Read more

SUFFER LITTLE HAMSTERS … — “USDA cites Florida State University in death of hamsters,” by the Tallahassee Democrat’s James Call: “Florida State University biomedical researchers failed to provide humane and appropriate postoperative care to its laboratory hamsters … Inspectors found two violations during a June visit to the Chieftan Way facility where animals are kept for medical testing. Inspectors in June said researchers failed to give their test subjects pain medication after conducting surgery, a violation of USDA protocol for lab animals. As many as 17 hamsters were suspected of having not been given an injection of an appropriate analgesia after being cut open and sutured.” Read more

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CORRECTION: Sen. Marco Rubio carried the state Senate’s 40th District by 3 percentage points in his reelection bid last year. A previous version of this newsletter incorrectly stated he lost the district by a 3-point margin.


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