By Marc Caputo ([email protected]; @MarcACaputo) with Emily Goldberg([email protected]; @ejgold94), Sergio Bustos ([email protected]; @sbustosFL) and the staff of POLITICO Florida

Good Monday morning. Hurricane Irma was two weeks, plus a day, plus an eternity ago. I still haven’t fully patched my water-damaged ceiling or taken down the plywood. And my mom is staying with me while my stepdad gets their Key West house fixed after a massive mahogany smashed the roof. How many Floridians aren’t home yet, are sheltering relatives or friends or haven’t fixed what Irma broke? It might be thousands since Irma tore through the Lower Keys and Southwest Florida on September 10, and even caused historic flooding in Jacksonville. Ten days later, Hurricane Maria shredded Puerto Rico, so Florida is bracing for more refugees as the situation becomes dire.

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RUBIO TO PUERTO RICO Sen. Marco Rubio heads to Puerto Rico today to get a first-hand look at the destruction and the needs of the island. A bilingual member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Rubio has repeatedly said the federal government needs to stand by its territory. Last year, Rubio was the only Republican in the GOP presidential primary to visit Puerto Rico. He won all 23 of its delegates.

HELP! — Puerto Rico’s governor calls for greater federal response to Maria,” by POLITICO’s Colin Wilhelm: Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló called on the Pentagon to provide more search-and-rescue help and humanitarian resources to help the beleaguered island recover from “complete devastation” from Hurricane Maria. Read more

— “Official: Hurricane Maria set Puerto Rico back decades,” by AP’s Danica Coto: Read more

— “Hot, isolated, and running out of supplies, parts of Puerto Rico near desperation,” by Washington Post’s Samantha Schmidt and Joel Achenbach: Read more

— “Aid begins to flow to Puerto Rico, facing a growing humanitarian crisis in Maria’s aftermath,” by AP’s Christopher Gillette and Danica Coto: Read more

ESCAPE SAN JUAN — “Puerto Rico to Orlando flights trickling in after Hurricane Maria,” by the Orlando Sentinel’s Bianca Padró Ocasio: “The first flights from the devastated island of Puerto Rico began arriving at Orlando International Airport this weekend. Preciosa Guzmán, 17, packed her bags and flew to Orlando on Saturday aboard JetBlue flight 8042 — one of the first commercial planes to leave the devastated island. She endured the catastrophic Hurricane Maria with her aunt and uncle in San Juan. Because they have no running water and were taking care of Guzmán’s 2-year-old niece, her family decided it was best for her to come stay with other family members in Orlando to leave the limited resources available for others. Read more

— “How I watched Hurricane Maria terrorize my home, from a distance,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Bianca Padró Ocasio: Read more

DISPATCHES For an idea of Puerto Rico’s condition, Miami Herald political writer Patricia Mazzei is a must read. Read this Twitter thread

— “No cell service in Puerto Rico? Drive to a highway in San Juan and pull over,” by Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei: “Somehow, despite having no means of communication other than word of mouth and maybe a battery-operated radio, Puerto Ricans discovered precisely where cell towers appeared to work — and flocked to those locations.” Read more

MONEY IN POVERTY — “Why would anyone in Puerto Rico want a hurricane? Because someone will get rich,” by Yarimar Bonilla for the Washington Post: “Puerto Rico already had a higher rate of income inequality than any U.S. state, and it has only been made worse by tax incentives used to lure investors at the expense of a depleted public sector. Puerto Rico’s Act No. 22 allows wealthy investors to evade federal and local income tax by spending a minimum of 183 nights a year on the island. These types of initiatives promote the arrival of wealthy retirees and part-time Caribbean residents, who are able to erect multimillion-dollar mansions complete with hurricane-proof bunkers, while many of those born and raised in these societies must rely on public infrastructure that has been deeply eroded to service foreign debt and provide tax breaks.” Read more


WUT? — “Nursing home industry pushes back on Scott’s generator rule,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: Nursing home officials and others meeting here Friday outlined a long list of logistical hurdles in implementing Gov. Rick Scott’s executive order to require nursing homes and other health care providers to have generators in place by Nov. 15. Scott’s emergency rule was issued in response to the deaths of 11 residents at a Broward County nursing home following Hurricane Irma. In announcing the rule, Scott said “during emergencies, health care facilities must be fully prepared to ensure the health, safety and well-being of those in their care and there is absolutely no excuse not to protect life.” Those gathered at the Nursing Center Emergency Preparedness Summit, including industry officials, local government leaders and state legislators, raised concerns about the vagueness of Scott’s emergency rule, along with costs and logistics. But they especially objected to the fact that the governor was giving nursing home operators just 90 days to equip their facilities with generators. Read more

DELETED “Nursing Home Voicemail to Governor Deleted,” by CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede: “The voicemail messages left on Gov. Rick Scott’s personal cellphone by a Hollywood nursing home where at least 11 people have died following Hurricane Irma, were deleted, according to the governor’s office. There were a total of four voicemails left during the 36 hours before the first patient died, and they would have been a critical piece of evidence in the ongoing investigation into the patient deaths. Natasha Anderson, a vice president with The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, says she called the governor’s cellphone to say the nursing home needed ‘immediate assistance’ in restoring the power to their air conditioning system. Scott said at no time did anyone from the nursing home suggest there was a crisis or that patients were in danger.” Read more

DIRTY WATER — “Eve Samples: After Irma, another disaster emerges in our water,” by TCPalm’s Eve Samples: “When you live on a densely populated peninsula built from marshes and muck, destruction wrought by hurricanes comes in two waves. First, the wind blows in with its sheer force. Next, the water gets nasty. The latter is what we’re dealing with now, two weeks after Hurricane Irma strafed Florida. Thousands of stinking dead fish, and at least one alligator, floated in the C-24 Canal in a residential neighborhood of Port St. Lucie this past week, as reported by TCPalm’s Tyler Treadway. Wildlife officials said Irma contributed to a dearth of oxygen in the canal, which drains farms and suburban development in St. Lucie County. Also this past week, the state issued a rash of water-quality warnings across the Treasure Coast, citing elevated enteric bacteria levels because of the deluge of rain and runoff from Hurricane Irma.” Read more

** A message from PhRMA: Ever wonder who decides what you pay for your medicines? It’s not who you might think. Biopharmaceutical companies set the list prices for their medicines, but it’s your insurer that decides how much you pay out of pocket. More than one-third of the list price is rebated back to middlemen, but these savings aren’t always shared with patients. **


— “House plans vote next week on tax relief for hurricane victims,” by POLITICO’s Aaron Lorenzo: Read more

— “USDA to provide disaster SNAP in Florida,” by POLITICO’s Sabrina Rodriguez. Read story here

— “Hurricane Irma gives most of Florida bath of raw sewage,” by the Orlando Sentinel’s Kevin Spear: Read more

— “Hurricane Irma flooding at Immokalee cemetery adds to families’ grief,” by Naples Daily News’ Maria Perez: Read more

— “Feeling mental fatigue after Hurricane Irma and other disasters? It’s real,” by the Tampa Bay Times’ Laura Reiley: Read more

— “No contest: Hurricane Irma was worse than Matthew in Brevard,” by Florida Today’s John McCarthy: Read more

— “After Irma, help arrives slowly in Washington Heights; residents feel forgotten,” by The Florida Times-Union’s Denise Amos: Read more

— “1st cruise ship since Irma docks in Key West,” by AP: Read more

— “What FPL’s CEO says about Irma outages,” by the Sun Sentinel’s Rosemary O’Hara: Read more

— “Skull-like image of Hurricane Maria seen as ‘eerie’” by the Sun Sentinel’s Brett Clarkson: Read more

— “Hurricane Irma Damages – Facts, Figures, and Forecast,” by Hunting Mark: Read more

— After Irma: Palm Beach’s weeklong shutdown challenged, defended,” by My Palm Beach Post’s Jane Musgrave: Read more

— “More than 55 arrested for hurricane curfew violations,” by The Ledger’s Mike Ferguson: Read more

— “After Hurricane Irma, many ask: How safe are shelters?” by the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam C. Smith: Read more

— “FWC: ‘Ghost boat’ owner is jailed in Key West,” by Florida Today’s Rick Neale: Read more

— “Giant Hurricane Irma was no match for nation’s smallest post office, in Ochopee,” by Naples Daily News’ Patrick Riley: Read more


BIG TEST Tuesday is Election Day in Florida’s 40th state Senate District, which Democrats desperately want (and some say need) to win. So far, of more than 27,000 pre-Election Day early ballots cast, Republicans edged by Democrats by about 1,000 (11,600 Republicans voted and 10,600 Democrats, with independents casting about 5,000 votes). These are just ballots cast. We don’t know what the vote tallies will be until Tuesday. Democrats might have surpassed Republicans yesterday in total early ballots, but we’ll have to wait until Sunday’s numbers are loaded into the state’s system this morning.

— One Republican strategist said the GOP has a higher number of reliable voters ready to cast ballots compared to Democrats, so he’s somewhat optimistic state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz will beat Democrat Annette Taddeo. This up-for-grabs district voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 16 points, but favored Rubio over then-Rep. Patrick Murphy by about 3 points in last year’s Senate race. Incidentally, independent candidate Christian “He Man” Schlaerth will actually appear on the ballot as Christian “He Man” Schlaerth.

ELECTION TIME MEANS $$ — “As SD 40 election nears, Florida Democrats get $150K cash boost from Ohio,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: The Florida Democratic Party this month swapped $150,000 with the Ohio Democratic Party, but won’t say why the transfer was needed. The transfer sent $150,000 from the party’s federal account to the Ohio Democratic Party, which then sent funds that can be used for state races back to Florida. State parties generally have separate federal and state accounts, and money in those accounts is not co-mingled. The transfer was reported to the Federal Election Commission on the FDP’s most recent campaign finance report, but FDP spokeswoman Johanna Cervone would not discuss the transfer, only saying it was to “effectively allocate” resources. Cervone would also not confirm that the publicly reported transfer was a federal-state money swap. That was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Ohio Democratic Party. Read more

INTRAPARTY SQUABBLE — “Some Democrats slam Rodríguez bill tied to GOP Obamacare repeal,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: As congressional Republicans again try to roll back the Affordable Care Act, their latest attempt has sparked an intraparty spat among Democrats in the crowded Miami primary to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, a Miami Democrat running for the congressional seat, is facing heat from Florida political opponents and national Democratic groups for a health care-related bill he filed ahead of the 2018 legislative session. The bill, FL SB302 (18R), he says, would mitigate damage if Congress this week passes the Obamacare repeal bill spearheaded by Republicans Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The Graham-Cassidy plan, opposed by Democrats, aims to rollback key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including a provision that would allow states to request waivers from what constitutes an “essential health benefit” that must be covered by insurers under the law. That includes emergency services, hospitalization, and maternity and newborn care, among others. In repealing large chunks of Obamacare, the bill would replace it with block grants to the states. The bill filed by Rodríguez would require that any waiver request must be approved by the state Legislature, meaning a future governor could not unilaterally make that decision. Read more

— Mary Barzee Flores, a trial lawyer favorite in the crowded FL-27 Democratic primary, has a fundraiser Wednesday at Stearns Weaver Miller. Invite is here

TRUMPCARE, PART 3-ish — “Analyses suggest GOP health care bill means less coverage in Florida,” by USA TODAY’s Ledyard King: Read more

PRIMARY GOLD FOR GWEN — “Rubio office rips Gwen Graham ‘stunt’ after she tries to reach him about health care,” by the Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary: Read more

STICKING WITH TRUMP — “Leading Florida Republicans side with Trump in feud with NFL,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: Republican leaders in Florida are mostly backing President Donald Trump’s comments over the weekend on the racially-charged issue of firing NFL players who protest during the national anthem. Gov. Rick Scott, who has a close relationship with Trump and headed a political action committee to support his presidential run, said he supports “everyone’s right to protest.” “But, as a veteran myself, I think it’s disrespectful to our veterans and active duty military to not stand for the national anthem,” he added in a statement to POLITICO Florida. He did not specifically comment on Trump’s latest remarks about getting rid of players who don’t stand for the national anthem. Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running for governor, tweeted late Sunday that he agrees with Trump “that professional athletes should stand for our National Anthem.” Read more

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE — “DHS notifies Florida that Russian hackers targeted state during election,” by POLITICO’s Eric Geller: The Department of Homeland Security on Friday notified 21 states — including Florida — that it says Russian government hackers tried to breach during the 2016 election. Florida, Alabama, Minnesota, Washington and Wisconsin have all confirmed that DHS had said they were among the states targeted. But all five said the breach attempts were unsuccessful. Read more

RETURN OF ALLEN WEST — “Allen West to Broward Republicans: Stop fighting or ‘I will put my foot square up your butt,’” by the Sun Sentinel’s Anthony Man: “Bitter political enemies warily eyed one another. Broward Republicans raised some cash for their depleted bank account. And there was some unity — around a denunciation of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. For Broward Republican Chairman Bob Sutton who is presiding over a county party organization convulsed with infighting, that made Saturday night a success. Still, conversations among many of the 200 people who gathered for a county Republican dinner were less about what unites them and more about the party’s civil war. Sutton is attempting to push out party Secretary Rupert Tarsey, who beat a young woman with a hammer in 2007 in California. Tarsey and congressional candidate Joe Kaufman are pushing to have Sutton removed from his job, claiming poor leadership.” Read more

STRONG MAN V. STRONG MEN — “Trump gives Castro, Maduro a scolding they deserve,” by Miami Herald’s editorial board: “Overshadowed by President Trump’s threatening words aimed at North Korea was his rebuke of Cuba and Venezuela with blistering words not heard from a U.S. president at the United Nations in years. It was an unusual scenario because Latin American issues — of high interest in South Florida — often are on the White House’s back burner during such international gatherings. But on Tuesday, Trump gave the Venezuelan crisis several minutes during his General Assembly address — rightly criticizing the South American country just as much as he did North Korea, Syria, and Iran, our declared enemies. Raúl Castro’s Cuba also received a tongue lashing, with Trump calling that government ‘a corrupt, destabilizing regime.’ This while the U.S.-Cuba Bilateral Commission was sitting in session, discussing, above all, the sonar attacks on U.S. diplomats working at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.” Read more

BECAUSE HIALEAH — “In Hialeah, money meant to feed poor kids pays for Las Vegas trip for city officials,” by Florida Bulldog’s Francisco Alvarado: “Two years ago, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez signed off on spending $7,621 from a $10,000 corporate grant for feeding poor children. Instead, the money went to pay for airline tickets and posh hotel accommodations for himself, his chief of staff, a police detective and four other city employees to attend a parks and recreation conference in Las Vegas. News of Mayor Hernandez’s curious city spending surfaced in documents filed in a recently closed joint public corruption investigation by Miami-Dade’s State Attorney’s Office and Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. Another strange finding: Hernandez never traveled to Las Vegas to attend the annual conference of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) from Sept. 13-17, 2015, and his whereabouts for seven days remain a mystery.” Read more

FRIES WITH THAT? — “Whataburger sued over alleged racial discrimination,” by the Tallahassee Democrat’s Jeff Burlew: “A former manager of the Whataburger on Apalachee Parkway alleged she was retaliated against and forced to resign because she would not carry out racially discriminatory hiring practices as directed by higher-ups. Her allegations are contained in a federal lawsuit filed Friday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Texas-based fast-food chain.” Read more

RIP SNOOTY — “Memorial held for loved, record-setting, 69-year-old manatee,” by AP: “The South Florida Museum will hold a memorial for Snooty, the oldest manatee in captivity who died recently during an aquarium accident. The memorial will be held Sunday at the museum in Bradenton. The event was originally scheduled for September 10 but was postponed due to Hurricane Irma. The Bradenton Herald reports that on Sunday afternoon, the museum will be open for free as the staff and the community celebrates the 69-year-old Snooty, who was beloved in the Gulf coast city.” Read more

** A message from PhRMA: Are middlemen really holding down the cost of medicines? Ever wonder who decides what you pay for your medicines? It’s not who you might think. Biopharmaceutical companies set the list prices for their medicines, but it’s your insurer that ultimately determines how much you pay out of pocket. More than one-third of the list price of a medicine is rebated back to middlemen, like insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). These rebates and discounts create savings of more than $100 billion, but these savings aren’t always shared directly with patients. Patients share the costs. They should share the savings. **

FOR MORE political and policy news, check out Politico Florida’s home page: And please follow our staff @mdixon55, @sbustosFL, @christinesexton, @dducassi, and @bruceritchie on Twitter.

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