Hello and welcome to Monday.
Solstice — Summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the courts.
Into the fray — And Gov. Ron DeSantis, judging from his fiery keynote 30-plus-minute speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition on Saturday evening in Orlando, is eager to wage as many battles on as many fronts as he possibly can.
Suit up — “These are tough fights and you got to be willing to get into that arena. You are going to get dirty. It ain’t going to be easy. You got to be strong. You got to put on the full armor of God,” DeSantis said in an address where he listed an array of forces — academia, Silicon Valley, corporations, sports leagues, “partisan corrupt” corporate media among others — that are engaged in “woke Leftism” that he was “holding the line” against and fighting.
Score one — DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody notched an important win on Friday when a federal judge slapped down cruise restrictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (although there’s a delay until the injunction takes effect).
More to come — But this is just one of several court clashes to come in the weeks and months to come. Lawsuits are mounting against the wave of legislation pushed by DeSantis this year — and there is an anticipation that even more may soon come.
All the way to the top — DeSantis, whose populist flourishes in his speech showed why he’s seen as the top successor to former President Donald Trump, predicted that the court battle over his social media crackdown law “is going to end up at the Supreme Court.” But he quickly added: “But I can tell you this — doing nothing is not protecting the freedom of individual Americans.” Get ready to rumble.
— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Have a tip, story, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
‘TALKS A GOOD GAME’ — “She could take down Ron DeSantis. But that doesn’t mean the left likes her,” by POLITICO’s Bruce Ritchie: Democrat Nikki Fried should be the greatest ally to Florida’s environmentalists and progressives. Instead, she’s their biggest disappointment. They hoped that Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner who this month launched a bid to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022, could use her statewide office to stand with them on a range of policy issues. But over the two-and-a-half years she’s been in office, they say she hasn’t acted on left-leaning policies like climate change and energy efficiency or fought hard enough against Republicans. “While Commissioner Nikki Fried talks a good game about climate change, our review of actual accomplishments do not add up to the rhetoric,” said Susan Glickman, Florida director of the nonprofit Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
ON THE RADAR — “Florida House Republicans leave state GOP offices, say relationship remains intact,” by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: The campaign arm of the Florida House Republican caucus has physically moved out of the Republican Party headquarters, and is increasingly raising money for a political committee outside of the party. House GOP campaigns, which are led by House Speaker-designate Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast), moved out of the Florida GOP’s Tallahassee headquarters, known as The George Bush Republican Center, in the early weeks of the 2021 legislative session. It has also increasingly used fundraising committees outside of the party, a move the caucus said should not be seen as completely severing ties with the Republican Party of Florida.
DIVING DEEPER — “Records link big business group to Florida elections probe,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Jason Garcia and Annie Martin: “Investigators searching for the source of more than half-a-million dollars spent last year in support of spoiler candidates that helped Republicans win three key state Senate races have obtained bank records for an organization tied to a big-business lobbying group funded by companies such as Florida Power & Light, Walt Disney World and U.S. Sugar Corp. The records were obtained as part of a criminal case in Miami, where prosecutors have charged former Republican state Sen. Frank Artiles with five felonies. Authorities say Artiles paid a financially struggling friend, Alexis Pedro Rodriguez, to run as an independent candidate in a state Senate race in South Florida. Rodriguez has also been charged in the case.”
— “Orlando Sentinel to oppose ex-lawmaker’s request to shield evidence in ‘ghost candidate’ case,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Annie Martin
2024 WATCH — “Mike Pence blasts Pres. Biden, Democrats but is heckled as ‘traitor’ at Orlando evangelical event,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Ryan Gillespie: “But the rifts in the Republican Party following the tumultuous Trump era couldn’t entirely be papered over, with former Vice President Mike Pence being greeted with some boos and getting heckled as a ‘traitor’ from at least one woman toward the back of the room. She was quickly removed by security. The conference featured speeches from politicians like Sens. Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn, in the lead up to a lunchtime talk with Pence.”
SCOTT’S PLEDGE MOMENT — Sen. Rick Scott also appeared at the Faith and Family Coalition and, let’s say, he got attention for the wrong reason. As noted by The Hill, Scott riffed on the Pledge of Allegiance and got the crowd to recite it. Scott had a stumble where he dropped a word or two from the pledge, but it was his statement that “woke, rich, pampered football players are kneeling for the Pledge of Allegiance.” This comment got widely ridiculed on social media as many pointed out that NFL players were kneeling during the National Anthem. The pledge is not recited before pro football games. (One item to note: Scott is not a big football fan or of most sports in general. His go-to sport is baseball.)
DESANTIS > TRUMP? — “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis edges out Donald Trump in Western Conservative Summit’s presidential straw poll,” by Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis scored something of an upset this weekend by finishing slightly ahead of former President Donald Trump in the Western Conservative Summit’s straw poll for the 2024 presidential election, the poll’s organizer said Saturday. DeSantis led the vote with about 75% to Trump’s roughly 72% in the highly unscientific poll, which was conducted online using the approval voting method. The summit, in its 12th year, is sponsored by Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute and drew around 500 people on Friday and Saturday to a downtown Denver hotel, plus an audience numbering in the tens of thousands who watched online, organizers said.”
— “Val Demings at Juneteenth event: ‘Freedom has to be about more than a holiday,’” by Orlando Sentinel’s Cristobal Reyes
DESANTIS AND MOODY GET A W — “Florida wins first round in cruise fight, but victory will be delayed,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Richard Tribou and Angie Dimichele: “A federal judge on Friday ruled for Florida in a lawsuit challenging a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order making it difficult for cruise ships to resume sailing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday granted a preliminary injunction against the CDC, which has imposed conditions for cruises to resume after a year and a half on the sidelines. The Tampa-based judge, in a 124-page decision, delayed the injunction for a month, however, so the CDC can propose changes. If the order stands, it means cruises can set sail without having to adhere to the agency’s rules.”
— “Florida’s U.S. senators want cruising to resume without government intervention,” by Miami Herald’s Alex Daugherty
— “COVID will lurk on every cruise ship. The question is how much,” by Sun Sentinel’s Ron Hurtibise
— “Royal Caribbean sails first ‘simulator’ cruise ship from Miami, as industry sets to restart,” by Miami Herald’s Bianca Padro’ Ocasio
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT — “Florida medical marijuana patients anxious about the end of DeSantis coronavirus order,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Kirby Wilson: “During the coronavirus pandemic, the state of Florida relieved the Vanderlips of the 280-mile round-trip journeys from their home in Deland to Apollo Beach, where the family’s preferred cannabis physician practices. Citing an emergency order by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Department of Health has allowed marijuana patients to re-up their medication with cannabis physicians via telehealth. But DeSantis’ emergency order is set to expire June 26, apparently taking with it a doctor’s ability to continue to recommend medical cannabis to patients virtually. That’s a concern for the neediest of the state’s cannabis patients, doctors say.”
STILL HERE — “Florida county close government building after COVID deaths,” by The Associated Press: “Florida county shuttered its main administration building after several employees contracted COVID-19 and two people died, officials said. Employees of the Manatee County Administration Building were ordered to leave Friday afternoon while the facility was disinfected and fogged. Epidemiologists were onsite initiating contact tracing, according to a press release from county officials. Manatee County officials did not say how many people contracted COVID, but County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes said ‘individual employees in the IT department who were known to be fully vaccinated and who were in close proximity of those who were infected did not contract COVID-19,’ according to a statement.”
— “More than 8 million doses of COVID vaccine sit unused in Florida, and close to 6 million returned to feds,” by Sun Sentinel’s Cindy Krischer Goodman
‘A LEGAL FRONT’ — “Florida’s top Democrat files complaint against former Trump attorney’s charity,” by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: Florida Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Friday she is going after a charity run by Sidney Powell, a former attorney for former President Donald Trump who amplified conspiracy theories in the wake of the 2020 election cycle. Fried’s office alleges that the Powell-run charity, known as Defending the Democracy, did not properly register with the state and has been deceptively soliciting donations on its website, which lists a West Palm Beach address. Fried is currently running for governor in Florida. The organization was set up under the guise of raising money to fund legal challenges to the results of the 2020 election, which saw a Trump loss spin off a host of conspiracy theories about voter fraud, many of which were started by Powell.
DEMS WANT INVESTIGATION — “Crist calls for bipartisan state commission to investigate Florida links to Capitol siege,” by Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Zac Anderson: “With Florida tied for the most arrests stemming from the siege on the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist joined with Hillsborough County’s top prosecutor Friday in calling for a bipartisan commission to investigate the state’s links to the Jan. 6 event. Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat and candidate for governor, was responding to reporting from Gannett’s Florida newspapers and USA Today that found Florida tied with Texas for the most arrests stemming from Jan. 6, with 47 each. ‘That is stunning,’ Crist said Friday of Florida’s arrest total. ‘And for our public safety we need to understand why.’”
Response — “DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw called Crist’s proposal ‘raw political opportunism.’ Pushaw said ‘any individuals who are found guilty of committing crimes should be held responsible for their own actions.’ She added that Crist’s proposal ‘is tailor-made for left-wing corporate media, not for everyday Floridians. Moreover, Crist’s framing blames more than 20 million Floridians for the actions of a few, and that is simply unfair — and unserious.'”
SIGNED BY BUCS — “Rubio calls on Biden to allow Naval Academy graduate to play in NFL,” by The Hill’s Olafimihan Oshin: “Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is calling on President Biden to grant a waiver to allow Naval Academy graduate Cameron Kinley to play in the NFL. Rubio wrote a letter Sunday asking Biden to grant a waiver to delay Kinley’s service in the military, citing previous administrations that have enacted policies allowing athletes in the armed forces to pursue professional sports careers. ‘In years past, the U.S. Department of Defense has issued many waivers to allow athletes to temporarily delay their service to our nation to pursue their professional sports dreams,’ Rubio wrote. ‘Unfortunately, Mr. Kinley seems to be the exception, and without reason.’”
— “Rubio and Scott reintroduce bill extending time for Canadian snowbirds,” by Villages-News
— “South Florida lawmakers increase pressure on Ortega ahead of Nicaraguan elections,” by Miami Herald’s Alex Daugherty
— “If UFO’s are out there, feds want to know what they are and where they’re from,” by Spectrum News’ Samantha-Jo Roth
THE FEUD THAT WILL NOT END — “Gary Farmer and Lauren Book and Democrats’ ‘battered wife effect,’” by Sun Sentinel’s Steve Bousquet: “At a town hall Wednesday in Deerfield Beach (posted on his Facebook page), [Sen. Gary] Farmer spoke in his blunt, closing-argument style of his colleagues, using disparaging terms and questioning their motives on key votes. ‘As Democrats, we’ve been in the minority for so long, I think for many it’s created almost a Stockholm Syndrome-like effect or a battered wife effect,’ Farmer said. ‘I think, for some of our Democratic members in Tallahassee, that frustration over being in the minority has led them to behavior that has them throwing votes to Republicans, sometimes on controversial issues, in the hopes that they can pass a bill or get a little appropriation done here and there.’”
Backlash — “[Sen. Lori] Berman said Farmer’s references to hostage-taking and domestic violence were “particularly offensive.” Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, also was outraged. ‘I’m tired of Gary picking on women,’ Cruz said. ‘Are we really going to give Republicans more fodder to use against us?’ [Sen. Lauren] Book is the biggest target of Farmer’s criticism, for obvious reasons. She’s one of three Democrats with chairmanships under Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson, which creates a facade of bipartisanship. Her foundation, Lauren’s Kids, which educates adults and children on preventing sexual abuse, is dependent on Republican largesse for annual appropriations in the budget ($2 million next year).”
— “DeSantis, Moody seek to scuttle protest law case,” by News Service of Florida
AWFUL — “Driver, 77, plowed into crowd at LGBTQ parade. Police say it was all a tragic accident,” by Sun Sentinel’s Susannah Bryan: “A truck plowed through a crowd at an LGBTQ Pride parade Saturday night — but the 77-year-old man behind the wheel did not intend to hurt a soul, police say. The man was physically unable to walk in the parade, so his truck was chosen as the lead vehicle. Police say he was inching forward when he accelerated unexpectedly, hitting two pedestrians. One man was killed and the other injured. The driver knew both men. All three were members of the Fort Lauderdale Men’s Gay Chorus. Some had wondered whether the driver intentionally hit anyone, but police released statements Sunday saying it was all an accident.”
— “More people have died around Florida Power & Light’s lines than any other Florida utility,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Malena Carollo
— “Vacationing kids cited for dragging Florida gator with noose,” by The Associated Press: “Three California children got in trouble after catching an alligator by its neck and dragging it to shore while vacationing near a Florida lake. Authorities said the children hooked a noose around the gator at Fay Lake Wilderness Park in Port St. John and dragged it to shore Thursday night. The 16-year-old was issued a citation for feeding, enticing or molesting alligators, Florida Wildlife Commission spokesperson Chad Weber. The other two children are 6 and 8 years old and were not given any citations. Authorities said the vacationers were not familiar with local gator laws.”
BIRTHDAYS: State Rep. Linda Chaney … State Rep. Chuck Clemons … former Rep. Jim Bacchus … (Was Sunday) Miami Herald’s Samantha J. Gross … Brad Howard of Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s office … Ed Miyagishima … (Was Saturday) Jim Baltzelle with The Associated Press … Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas … Florida Politics’ A.G. Gancarski … (Was Friday) State Rep. Joe Harding
- Gary Fineout @fineout