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

Good Thursday morning. If there’s one place to be today, it’s Bedminster, N.J., during the 1 p.m. lunch between Gov. Rick Scott and President Donald Trump. As Trump’s poll numbers have deteriorated as controversies dogged him, Scott has stayed steadfastly loyal, all the while casting himself as a de facto adviser and sounding board for the president from health care to Cuba policy. Scott never says what they talk about. And, with the latest trouble nagging Trump, Scott’s saying even less.

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NO COMMENT — “Scott, Bondi condemn white supremacists, but not president’s ‘fine people’ comments,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: Donald Trump’s top supporters in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, condemned white supremacy Wednesday but refused to criticize the president’s comments that “very fine people” were found among the neo-Nazis involved in the racially charged clashes in Charlottesville, Va. “You can ask President Trump what he said,” Scott told reporters when asked his thoughts about the president’s comments.

“I haven’t talked to the president since then, so you’re going to have to ask him about those comments,” Bondi said at the same time after the Florida Cabinet met. For more than a day, Republicans across the state and nation have been under intense scrutiny to react to Trump’s statements about the nature of the protesters and his belief that there’s “blame on both sides” for violence at a Charlottesville rally organized by white supremacists. Read more.

GOOD NEWS FOR SCOTT — A new Morning Consult poll shows that Gov. Scott’s doing something right in the eyes of Florida voters, with 52 percent approving of the job he’s doing and 37 percent disapproving.

BAD NEWS FOR TRUMP — “Poll: Most Americans think Trump’s response to Charlottesville not enough,” by POLITICO’s Madeline Conway Read more


NO NAZI FOR YOU! — “University of Florida denies request for Richard Spencer speech,” by POLITICO’s DANIEL DUCASSI: The University of Florida has denied a request by the National Policy Institute to reserve space for a speaking event featuring the organization’s president, infamous white supremacist Richard Spencer, “amid serious concerns for campus safety.” Read more

— “Gaetz condemns racism, cautions against ‘white-washing’ history,” by Santa Rosa Press Gazette Alicia Adams Read more

— “Trump administration wants to praise the county mayor in Miami. He just slammed Trump,” by the Miami Herald’s Douglas Hanks Read more

— “Two councilmen join Hayward’s call to remove Confederate monument,” by the Pensacola News Journal’s Jim Little Read more

— “Gaetz condemns Charlottesville violence, KKK during Pensacola visit; wants statues to stay,” by the Pensacola News Journal’s Melissa Nelson Gabriel Read more

— “People on both sides turn out at Jacksonville rally about removing Confederate statues,” by’s Steve Patterson Read more

— “Florida gubernatorial candidate on Charlottesville blame: ‘I wasn’t there’,” by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo Read more

— “Latvala, praised as ‘moderate,’ launches gubernatorial bid,” by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo Read more

— “Swastika, SS initials spray-painted on palm trees near MacArthur Causeway,” by the Miami Herald’s Elizabeth Koh Read more

— “Putnam says fight over Confederate statues misguided,” by TC Palm’s Arek Sarkissian Read more

REBEL YELL — “Confederate monument at Florida Capitol sparks debate after Charlottesville,” by the Miami Herald’s Kristen M. Clark: “Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Florida’s capital city and a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, called on Gov. Rick Scott to remove the monument from the Capitol grounds, where similar memorials honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., veterans and firefighters, among others.” Read more

NO MONEY, NO REMOVAL — “Without private funding, Confederate statue won’t be moved,” by the AP’s Tamara Lush: “If enough money isn’t raised by private citizens to move a Confederate monument in Florida to a private cemetery it will remain on public property, officials decided Wednesday, casting doubt on an earlier vote to remove it. The Hillsborough County Commission’s vote came just days after a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The commission voted last month to remove the 106-year-old monument. Wednesday’s 4-2 decision means the county will not remove the Confederate monument in Tampa unless private funds can be raised in 30 days.” Estimated amount needed: $140k Read more

LOL — “After monument vote, Confederate activist named to Hillsborough County diversity council,” by the Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Contorno: “Moments after Hillsborough County commissioners made uncertain a previous decision to move Tampa’s Confederate monument, they voted to put the area’s most vocal advocate of Confederate causes on a citizen committee to promote diversity. Four of six commissioners present nominated David McCallister, commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Judah P. Benjamin Camp, to be the representative of Northern & Southern Europe on the county’s Diversity Advisory Council. The diversity council includes representatives from various ethnic groups as well as the LGBTQ community.” Read more

BAXLEY’S ON THE GUEST LIST — “Florida State Senator to Attend Pro-Confederate Event After Charlottesville Rally,” by the Miami New Times’ Jerry Ianelli: “Despite the obvious racism and tacit support for violence by the group [Save Southern Heritage] online, Florida state Sen. Dennis Baxley — who tried to block a monument to the victims of slavery in Florida earlier this year — is scheduled to appear at a Save Southern Heritage Florida banquet in Temple Terrace, Florida, September 2. Baxley is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion about the alleged ‘War on the South’ alongside Orlando-area radio host Doug Guetzloe and black Confederate flag supporter H.K. Edgerton. Tickets cost $29.50 and include a three-course fried chicken, salmon, and pasta dinner … Baxley confirmed he will indeed attend the banquet but said he’ll speak to ‘condemn racism, bigotry, and violence.’ However, he said that he does not believe Confederate monuments should be taken down and that removing Confederate iconography is actually what triggers racist violence.” Read more


GOLDMAN GUYS — “State investment chief met with Goldman Sachs official on Venezuelan investment,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: The state’s top money manager says he met on more than one occasion with Goldman Sachs executives about the state’s plan to block future investments with companies doing business with Venezuela. Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet, acting as trustees of the State Board of Administration, on Wednesday passed a plan to block the SBA from investing in companies that do business with the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. The SBA oversees state investments. Read more.

MADURO FIGHT — “Scott, Nelson trade barbs over Venezuela policy,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: As Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro becomes a growing political football in Florida, the 2018 U.S. Senate race seems poised to include a competition by candidates to list steps, often symbolic, they have taken to crack down on the regime. After a Florida Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott took an unprompted shot at Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on the issue. Although he has not yet announced, Scott is widely expected to challenge Nelson next year. Read more.

CASE DISMISSED — Diosdado Cabello, the Venezuelan pol suspected of involvement in an assassination plot against Sen. Marco Rubio, lost a libel suit against the Wall Street Journal for this 2015 story concerning his alleged involvement in the cocaine trade. Read that 2015 story here

MAGIC CITY > WINDY CITY — “Sessions blasts Chicago mayor in sanctuary cities speech,” by POLITICO’s Nolan D. McCaskill and Marc Caputo: Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Miami to trash Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In a 30-minute speech on Wednesday criticizing Chicago’s “sanctuary city” policy, Sessions used Miami-Dade County as a foil to accuse Emanuel of neglecting murder rates associated with undocumented immigrants while putting federal funds at risk. Read more

WELCOME BACK — “Altmaier makes AOB a top priority again for 2018,” by POLITICO Florida’s Christine Sexton: Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said Wednesday that his office will continue to push for changes to eliminate the state’s one-way attorney fee statute to address an increasing number of third party lawsuits that have been filed against insurance companies. Altmaier told Gov. Rick Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet that his office made a “solid effort” during the 2017 session to change the law to eliminate the statutes but that the Office of Insurance Regulation couldn’t get the bill “across the finish line.” Read more.

MEDICARE FRAUD OUT IN THE OPEN — “2 Southwest Florida cancer centers accused of Medicare fraud and unsafe medical practices,” by TC Palm’s Frank Gluck: “Two of the nation’s largest cancer-care providers are accused of engaging in an illegal ‘gentleman’s agreement’ to divide up treatment services in Florida. The allegation against Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute and 21st Century Oncology, is one of a laundry list of claims — including gender discrimination, fraudulent Medicare billing and unsafe medical practices — leveled against the companies in a 50-page federal whistleblower lawsuit filed last year that had, until recently, been under seal and out of the public eye.” Read more

DEATH OF A TOWN — “Hastings residents to decide in November whether to dissolve government,” by St. Augustine Record’s Sheldon Gardner: “Hastings residents will decide in November whether they want their town government to dissolve. Town commissioners voted 3-1 this week to put the question to a ballot, and Commissioner Jeanette Bradley was among those who voted in favor of the move. ‘[I voted yes] so that the people could say once and for all whether or not they wanted to remain a town or dissolve. … I would encourage them to inform themselves as much as they can before they vote,’ Bradley said.” Read more

RESOLUTIONS ON THE RUNWAY — “Dispute over ‘Orlando’ in Orlando Melbourne International Airport continues,” by Florida Today’s Wayne T. Price: “The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority isn’t backing off its ire over other airports using the name “Orlando” to entice more passengers. And that includes the Melbourne-based Orlando Melbourne International Airport. Officials from the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority and the Melbourne Airport Authority will hold a special meeting from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday to try and find a resolution.” Read more

CAUGHT LEAKING — “Deputy charged with giving airport shooting video to TMZ,” by the Sun Sentinel’s Linda Trischitta: “Veteran Broward Sheriff’s deputy was arrested Wednesday, accused of secretly recording security video of the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting in January that left five dead. Two days later, the video appeared on the gossip website Deputy Michael Dingman, 47, turned himself in to the sheriff’s headquarters in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday morning and was taken to the main jail. He is accused of unlawfully giving the video to TMZ, according to an arrest report.” Read more

CORRUPT CORRINE BROWN — “Judge rejects ex-U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s bid for new trial,” by’s Steve Patterson: “A federal judge has rejected former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s request for a new trial on fraud and tax charges. Brown was convicted of 18 crimes in May but her lawyers argued the verdict shouldn’t count because U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan had improperly replaced one juror during deliberations. Corrigan denied a request to start over Wednesday and scheduled a sentencing hearing Nov. 16. Corrigan said in his ruling he was right to remove a juror who said ‘the Holy Spirit’ told him of Brown’s innocence.” Read more

NO MARRIAGE UNDER 18 — “Raped at age 10, her plight may change Florida marriage laws,” by the Orlando Sentinel’s Dan Sweeney: “Sherry Johnson was raped at age 10 in Hillsborough County and forced by her religious parents to marry her rapist at age 11. She was wed six years to him, fumbling her way through parenthood as best she could, having five more children along the way. Now 57 years old and living in Tallahassee, her memoir, ‘Forgiving the Unforgivable,’ is galvanizing the state Legislature to make Florida among the first states in the nation to ban marriage under the age of 18.” Read more


— “Croc Catchers: Researchers tracking baby crocodiles in South Florida,” by WSVN-7’s Brian Entin and Daniel Cohen: Read more

— “For synagogue terror plot, Florida man inspired by ISIS faces 25 years in prison,” by the Miami Herald’s Jay Weaver Read more

— “Nazi gang members arrested after raid on Florida trailer nets meth, guns, veterans’ ID cards, more: report,” by the Sun Sentinel’s Tiffini Theisen Read more

— “BET founder’s daughter suspended from equestrian competition after Walmart gaffe,” by the Palm Beach Post’s Matt Morgan Read more

— “Brevard schools excusing absences for solar eclipse,” by Florida Today’s Caroline Glenn Read more

— “NW Florida homeowner shoots burglar with AK-47,” by Panama City News Herald staff Read more

— “Last-minute changes require revised plan for Aqua by the Bay,” by Hannah Morse: Read more

THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT — “LCSO: Woman caught snorting cocaine from iPhone screen in school parent pick-up line,” by Fort Myers News-Press’ Mark Bickel: “Christina Hester, 39, of Fort Myers, was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly snorting cocaine in her car in the parents’ pick-up line at Lexington Middle School. A school resource officer said they witnessed Hester chopping up a white powdery substance on her iPhone screen using a credit card, according to a Lee County Sheriff’s Office report. The report said she snorted the substance with a cut straw. The officer had her get out of the car and go up to his office, where he made the arrest. The officer field-tested the substance, which tested positive for cocaine. The total package weight was 0.5 grams.” Read more

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

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