Hello and welcome to Thursday.
The daily rundown — Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the number of Florida coronavirus cases increased by 3,220 (0.5 percent), to 608,722; hospitalizations went up 366 (nearly 1 percent), to 37,404; deaths rose by 153 (1.4 percent), to 10,733.
Close-up — It’s time for a cameo by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Live on tape — Florida’s Republican governor — who catapulted into office with a large assist from President Donald Trump — is scheduled to get his moment at the Republican National Convention, although he won’t be there in person.
The checklist — DeSantis recorded a video at the governor’s mansion where he is expected to tell a national audience about how Trump, who now calls the Sunshine State home, has provided “critical support for Florida” especially over the last two years. That probably means lauding Trump for his help on the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, and federal aid following Hurricane Michael.
Florida, Florida, Florida — DeSantis’ moment comes at the end of a four-day convention that has witnessed a long line of familiar faces from Florida, including Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez and Rep. Matt Gaetz. It reinforces again and again how crucial Florida is to Trump’s re-election.
Rebound? — During the last few months, DeSantis has seen his public image take a hit and his favorable ratings dip amid his response to the coronavirus pandemic. The governor, however, has already said he plans to seek a second term in 2022 when, hopefully, life has returned to some semblance of normalcy. And while he recently scoffed at the notion of a 2024 bid for president, DeSantis is still getting more RNC attention than potential rivals Sens. Rick Scott or Marco Rubio. That should count for something.
— WHERE’S RON? — Gov. DeSantis is scheduled to be in Tampa.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Florida Playbook will not publish Aug. 31-Sept. 7. After the break, we’ll return to our normal schedule on Tuesday, September 8. In the meantime, please continue to follow POLITICO Florida.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON — “Hurricane Laura crashes Trump’s convention,” by POLITICO’s Steven Shepard: Now, one of the 10 strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the Lower 48 states has come on shore in the hours before President Donald Trump’s acceptance speech on Thursday. The extremely dangerous hurricane — along with the fallout of the recent police shooting in Kenosha, Wis., that led to the postponement of NBA playoff games and other pro sports on Wednesday — has thrown up another management hurdle for Trump and his administration, as well as threatening to knock the convention out of the stories leading the nation’s news.
No changes — But for now, it was business as usual during the third night of President Donald Trump’s nominating convention. After a brief reference Wednesday night in a prayer from Rabbi Aryeh Spero, the GOP convention largely proceeded as it would have under normal circumstances, until Trump’s daughter-in-law and Vice President Mike Pence both mentioned the hurricane toward the end of the night. Kellyanne Conway, the president’s outgoing White House counselor, wouldn’t officially shut the door on postponing Trump’s acceptance speech on Thursday, but a campaign official quickly shot down any suggestion his speech wouldn’t go on as scheduled.
‘WON’T BE BLOWN OFF COURSE’ — “How House GOP candidate Laura Loomer explains her history of hate-speech, Islamophobia,” by Palm Beach Post’s Christine Stapleton: “The Club 45 event also offered Loomer a chance to explain her well-documented history of hate on social media that ended up getting her banned from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Medium, Uber, Lyft, Venmo and PayPal. But her explanation on Monday was cloaked in defiance — and decidedly unapologetic. And it included a vow to punish social media companies if she is elected to Congress. Loomer did caution the several hundred diehard Trump fans that ‘we’re going to hear a lot of really awful things about me over the next few months.’ ‘Some of them you’ll recognize from fake news stories and I’m sure the forces of darkness will bring up some new lies, too, because they always do,’ Loomer said. ‘But I am running and I’m anticipating their moves and won’t be blown off course.’”
HEFTY BILL — “Florida legal fees pile up — to $1.7M and growing — in challenge to felon voting law. And state taxpayers foot the bill,” by News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam: “Florida taxpayers have spent more than $1.7 million — and are on the hook for hundreds of thousands more — in the state’s defense of a 2019 law requiring felons to pay “legal financial obligations” to be eligible to vote, according to state records. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has authorized more than $2.3 million in contracts with private lawyers, including a $265,000 agreement with Washington, D.C.-based Cooper & Kirk PLLC law firm, to represent the state in a federal appeals court, the records show.”
— “Democrats accuse Donald Trump of dictatorial action while talking anti-dictator talk,” by Florida Politics’ Scott Powers
— “Don Jr. robocall urges supporters to vote by mail,” by POLITICO’s Anita Kumar
— “USPS mail-sorting machines in West Palm Beach dismantled ahead of Nov. 3 election,” by Treasure Coast Newspapers Laurie K. Blandford
PATH FORWARD? — “Florida Gov. DeSantis gets blueprint for nursing home visits,” by News Service of Florida’s Christine Sexton: “Florida should allow the resumption of face-to-face visits in nursing homes — and let certain visitors touch residents — under recommendations approved Wednesday by a task force and sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis. The recommendations, adopted by the Task Force on the Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long Term Care Facilities, still must be approved by DeSantis, who has been looking for ways to reopen facilities to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
WHY? — “Department of Health orders Duval schools to pause publishing COVID-19 numbers,” by Florida Times-Union’s Emily Bloch: “Superintendent Diana Greene said the district was going the extra mile, working on its own dashboard with updated COVID-19 case numbers, that was expected to launch the first day of school. Instead, a static webpage the district started updating with confirmed cases on Monday has been untouched for two days. District spokesman Tracy Pierce said that’s because on Tuesday, the Duval County Department of Health told the district it cannot publish ‘school-specific data related to COVID-19’ without the state health department’s permission.”
— “Hundreds in quarantine after Central Florida schools report dozens of COVID cases,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Leslie Postal
SELLING IT — “Rubio touts a new COVID technology in press release about his child’s school,” by Miami Herald’s Alex Daugherty: “A press release pitching a ‘catch and kill’ air filtration system to help schools reduce COVID-19 infection risk quoted Sen. Marco Rubio praising the technology and said the Republican lawmaker would be on hand to celebrate the system’s installation Thursday at True North Classical Academy, a charter school one of his children attends. But Rubio’s office said Thursday he won’t attend the event at the school. And the sitting senator isn’t endorsing the product, Rubio spokesperson Nick Iacovella said in an email: ‘Senator Rubio cannot comment on any specific product, but he strongly supports schools using new technologies, strategies, and routines to help them reopen safely.’”
Sen. Marco Rubio at Capitol Hill. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Kelly Craft
NEW PROCEDURE — “Florida’s medical examiners no longer required to certify, investigate COVID-19 deaths,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Anastasia Dawson: “The number of fatalities attributed to the novel coronavirus in Florida will no longer be verified by the forensic pathologists who investigate causes of death. A new ruling approved by Florida’s nine-member Medical Examiners Commission on Aug. 14 states that Florida’s medical examiners are no longer required to sign off on death certificates listing COVID-19 as the cause or a contributing cause of death. Instead, any attending physician with a valid medical license in the state of Florida can now determine the official cause of death for those who die after testing positive for the coronavirus.”
— “Florida can continue to ban alcohol sales at bars, Orlando judge rules,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Ryan Gillespie
— “Gadsden mask ordinance upheld, with a warning for lawyer-lawmaker Anthony Sabatini,” by USA Today Network-Florida Capital Bureau’s James Call
— “Data shows spike of COVID-19 in children aged 10 and younger in southwest Florida,” by Naples Daily News’ Liz Freeman
— “Three St. Lucie schools order students, staff to quarantine following possible COVID-19 exposure,” by Treasure Coast Newspapers Sommer Brugal
— “Florida governor supports Disney, Universal and state theme parks easing COVID-19 capacity limits,” by Fox News’ Jeanette Settembre
ON SECOND THOUGHT — “Florida changes direction, will apply for Trump’s jobless aid,” by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout: Jobless Floridians will get a $300 boost in their unemployment checks in the near future after Gov. Ron DeSantis decided to tap into federal disaster money made available by President Donald Trump. The move represents something of a turnaround for the DeSantis administration. Last week it was undecided about applying for Trump’s extension of jobless aid because the federal proposal’s rules could prove extremely costly — and unwieldy — to carry out. In a brief statement, Florida’s Republican governor thanked Trump “on behalf of Floridians who are continuing to face challenges finding employment.”….When asked why Florida decided to participate in the “lost wages assistance” program, as it is officially called, one top DeSantis aide would say only that “things change.” State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) called the development “great news.”
— “How Trump’s unemployment boost is unequal across states,” by POLITICO’s Rebecca Rainey
SETTLEMENT — “Florida OKs $4.65 million payout for beating by staff that paralyzed inmate Cheryl Weimar,” by Miami Herald’s Samantha J. Gross: “Cheryl Weimar’s name is known in prison circles as an example of the few rights and little dignity inmates have in the Florida prison system. Weimar, 51, was brutally attacked by guards at Lowell Correctional Institution and paralyzed as a result. For the past year, Weimar has remained in prison, bound to a special hospital bed and dependent on catheters, mechanical breathing assistance, a tracheostomy and feeding tubes. Meanwhile, her attorneys were building a federal civil rights lawsuit on her behalf. On Tuesday, Weimar’s case was ordered closed. According to a settlement agreement provided to the Miami Herald by the Department of Financial Services, she will be paid $4.65 million, possibly the largest such settlement from the state of Florida. The family of Darren Rainey, the 50-year-old inmate with schizophrenia whose death in a rigged shower at Dade Correctional Institution led to sweeping reform, settled for $4.5 million.”
EAT IT — “Florida approves edible medical marijuana,” by POLITICO’s Arek Sarkissian: Florida’s medical marijuana industry was given the green light Wednesday to produce and sell edible products with a set of emergency rules published by the state Department of Health. What happened: The rules were published by the DOH Office of Medical Marijuana Use Wednesday night, authorizing the state’s 22 licensed cannabis producers to produce and sell THC-infused products such as cookies, candy and brownies. The emergency designation allows the rules to take effect immediately. They will coincide with a set of food-safety rules already approved by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Department of Agriculture cannabis director Holly Bell said her agency has certified three kitchens to produce edible marijuana products.
FALLOUT — “State taxes remain down in July as tourism suffers,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner: “State general revenues came in just above a forecast amount in July, but the coronavirus pandemic continued to hammer sales-tax collections. Numbers released Wednesday by the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research showed general revenues topping an earlier projection by $2.5 million, driven in part by the end of state-approved delays of payments of corporate income taxes and corporate filing fees.”
— “Florida bar exam now set for Oct. 13, still in online-only format,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s Karl Etters
JUST VISITING — “Former Trump campaign manager traveled to Cuba to meet ‘Castro’s son,’ Senate report says,” by El Nuevo Herald’s Nora Gamez Torres: “In early January 2017, when the Cuban government was looking for insights into President-elect Donald Trump, his former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, traveled to the island to meet with ‘Castro’s son,’ according to a U.S. Senate report. The recently released Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election states that Manafort claimed the meeting was arranged by Brad Zackson, the former exclusive broker for the properties of Trump’s late father, Fred Trump.”
THE RUBIO DOCTRINE — “To counter China, some Republicans are abandoning free-market orthodoxy,” by Washington Post’s Jeanne Whalen: “But some are starting to call for more government involvement in the economy — and more federal spending — to help the United States compete against a rival that is pumping out patents, engineering graduates and a host of high-tech goods, from electric vehicles and telecommunications equipment to industrial drones. ‘Ultimately, capitalism is the best economic model. It will always yield the most efficient outcome. But there are times where the most efficient outcome is not the best outcome for America,’ Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), one of the Republican sponsors of the semiconductor legislation, said in an interview. For the past year, Rubio has been arguing that the government must identify the industrial sectors most critical to national security and economic growth, and spur investment in them, an approach he calls a ‘21st-century pro-American industrial policy.’”
TAKING A STAND — “Boycott: NBA playoff games called off amid player protest,” by Associated Press’ Brian Mahoney and Tim Reynolds: “Making their strongest statement yet in the fight against racial injustice, players from six NBA teams decided not to play postseason games on Wednesday in a boycott that quickly reverberated across other professional leagues. Also called off: Some games in Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the three WNBA contests, as players across four leagues decided the best way to use their platform and demand change was to literally step off the playing surface. Players made the extraordinary decisions to protest the shooting by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday of Jacob Blake, a Black man, apparently in the back while three of his children looked on.”
TO COURT — “Environmental group challenges Ginnie Springs water pumping request,” by POLITICO’s Bruce Ritchie: Our Santa Fe River, an environmental nonprofit group based in Fort White, is asking a state administrative law judge to recommend that the Suwannee River Water Management District deny a requested water pumping permit near Ginnie Springs. The request, which was forwarded by the Suwannee River Water Management District to the Division of Administrative Hearings on Monday, contends the proposed pumping by Seven Springs Water Co. will harm the Santa Fe River and its springs.
WHAT LIES BENEATH — “Oil exploration risks unleashing explosives hidden along Atlantic Ocean floor,” by Florida Today’s Jim Waymer: “Some of the deadliest weapons ever made by humankind are right off our shores, deliberately dumped at the bottom of the ocean from Delaware to Florida. Fifty years ago this month, servicemen sank — on purpose — a 442-foot World War II freighter loaded with 12,540 rockets of sarin nervegas and one container of even deadlier VX nerve gas. She was sunk 283 miles due east of Cape Canaveral. It was all part of a military weapons disposal plan, supposedly the last of its kind.”
FINALLY MADE PUBLIC — “NextEra offered $11 billion to buy JEA during last year’s sales negotiations,” by Florida Times-Union’s David Bauerlein: NextEra Energy offered $11.05 billion to buy JEA during last year’s sales negotiations, a bid that was far and away the largest offer on the table for the ‘crown jewel’ of city government when the JEA board ended sales talks last December.”
LEAVING SOON — “Florida county votes to move Confederate monument,” by Associated Press: “A small Florida county will move its monument honoring Confederate soldiers from its spot in front of the courthouse. The Putnam County Commission voted 4-1 Tuesday to move the statue, using private donations, but did not decide when or where it will be moved.”
‘INAPPROPRIATE’ — “Davie police chief cleared of wrongdoing; he apologizes for remark about gay deputy who died from COVID,” by Sun Sentinel’s Eileen Kelley: “An investigation has found that the Davie police chief didn’t lash out with hostility when he tried to allay officers’ COVID-19 fears in early April, but it determined he used bad judgment for bringing up that a deputy who died was gay.”
— “Jaguars create executive position to push for social justice,” by Associated Press
— “Accident on Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay water slides bring 73 injury claims, court documents say,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Gabrielle Russon
THIS PARROT IS NO MORE — “Lobbyist Ron Book files suit over birdnapping: ‘I will chase you till I die,” by Palm Beach Post’s Wendy Rhodes: “Blue, the 6-year-old parrot belonging to powerful, high-profile political lobbyist Ron Book has been ‘birdnapped.’ But according to the caretaker Book accuses of stealing the valuable macaw, the bird is now dead. In a civil suit filed Aug. 20 in Broward County, Book accused former pet store owner Nathan Kalichman of stealing his hyacinth macaw. ‘I will file a civil action, then I will chase you till I die, that I assure you,’ Book wrote to Kalichman in the complaint… The simple fact, Kalichman said, is that Book is ‘not a great bird owner.’ ‘On three occasions, I’ve witnessed him chase Muscovy ducks, hit them with broomsticks, and tell his guy to get the poison and kill them because they crap on his million dollar pavers,” Kalichman said.”
— “Orlando man charged with hitting a Disney security guard during fight over COVID-19 mask rule,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Gabrielle Russon: “An Orlando man struck an Epcot security guard when he was reminded to follow the theme park’s mask rules, an Orange County sheriff’s report says, the first known crime report involving such a confrontation at Disney World. Enrico Toro, 35, is accused of hitting the guard in the head and threatening to kill him, which led to Toro’s arrest Aug. 14, the arrest affidavit said.”
BIRTHDAYS: Roger Stone is 68 … State Rep. Wengay Netwon … POLITICO’s Darius Dixon
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