Hello and welcome to Friday.
Where he stands— Sen. Marco Rubio made extensive remarks about abortion on Thursday that could shape the contours of his reelection campaign against Democratic Rep. Val Demings — while also leading to questions for other GOP candidates on the ballot this year.
Questioned— Rubio’s interview with CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede for a weekend election special found the senator pressed about whether he would favor a complete ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest and human trafficking now that the Supreme Court has repealed Roe v. Wade.
Making it clear—Rubio said he favored such a ban, with the caveat that the issue should be dealt with by the states not the federal government. However, he also added that he would vote for exceptions because he recognized that not everyone shares his viewpoint.
What he said— “I am in favor of laws that protect human life. I do not believe that the dignity and the worth of human life is tied to the circumstances of their conception, but I recognize that’s not a majority position,” Rubio told DeFede. “This is not an easy issue. I never said this is an easy issue. It puts two fundamental rights in conflict — the right to choose of a woman and the right to live of an unborn human being.”
Reaction— Demings responded sharply on Twitter to the interview, writing that “Marco Rubio is obsessed with taking away our freedoms. Losing the right to choose means women’s lives are at risk, doctors could be thrown in jail, and victims of rape and incest forced to carry the seed of their rapist.”
Florida’s other senator— GOP Sen. Rick Scott, who is in charge of the Republican campaign operation to retake the Senate, took a different stance than Rubio when asked about abortion earlier this month. During an interview on Bloomberg, Scott said “the country is pro-life” while adding “the country is for reasonable restrictions and reasonable exceptions.” He said a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy was “reasonable” but he did add that there should be exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. “I think we all have to be compassionate about what these women are going through,” Scott said.
And the governor?— Where Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stands at this point isn’t as clear. DeSantis said he was in favor of additional “pro-life protections” after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. He recently signed Florida’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks into law, but the governor has not articulated what other steps he would take or accept. During a press conference Tuesday, DeSantis said “the first thing” is to “defend what we’ve done,” a reference to the ongoing legal challenge to the new ban. “We want to make sure what we’ve done will stick,” said DeSantis, adding that the current law was “difficult to achieve.”
— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.
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DEMOCRATIC POLL: CRIST DOWN 5 POINTS— Democrats contend that there is a road map for Rep. Charlie Crist to defeat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The numbers— Impact Research recently did a poll of likely general election voters on behalf of the Democratic Governors Association and found that DeSantis has a five point lead — 51 percent to 46 percent — over Crist. But pollsters also found independents turning on the governor and that voter attitude about DeSantis changes with messaging about abortion and rising insurance rates.
Tweaks — The DGA poll said its survey showed that independents backed Crist over DeSantis, 52 percent to 39 percent, and also showed that a majority of independents have an unfavorable view of the governor. The poll also found that the race tightens to 48 percent to 46 percent when respondents were told about DeSantis’ position on abortion and when rising insurance rates and the cost of living are brought up. The online poll of 800 voters was done right before the Aug. 23 primary where Crist trounced Democratic rival Nikki Fried. The poll has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.5 percent.
‘THAT IS JUST OVERREACH’ — Defendants targeted in DeSantis’ voter fraud crackdown were told they could vote, by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: Several people who were arrested last week as part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ voter fraud crackdown were notified by official government entities they were eligible to vote, according to court documents and interviews. The defendants told authorities they had no intention of committing voter fraud, according to affidavits, and in some cases were baffled by their arrests because counties had sent them voter registration cards and approved them to vote.
HELPING OUT— “Gavin Newsom pledges $100K to help Charlie Crist defeat Ron DeSantis,” by CNN’s Steve Contorno: “California Gov. Gavin Newsom is sending money across the country to help Rep. Charlie Crist defeat Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this November. The California Democrat on Thursday tweeted that he was pledging $100,000 to make DeSantis a ‘one-term governor’ and he called on his supporters to donate to Crist, who won the Democratic nomination to be Florida’s governor on Tuesday. Asked about the donation during a Los Angeles event, Newsom said he was compelled to donate to Crist because ‘I don’t like bullies.’”
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION— “Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried proclaim Democrats are unified in quest to unseat Ron DeSantis,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Anthony Man: “Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried proclaimed Thursday night that Florida Democrats are unified, though the words and visuals showed it’s much easier to talk about unity than actually achieve it. ‘We are here tonight for one reason, to make sure that we are united,’ Fried declared. ‘I will be out there every single day fighting for this ticket.’”
Quite the picture — “Fried never mentioned Crist, the gubernatorial nominee who vanquished her in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. She didn’t use the word endorsement during her four-minute speech. And the all-important visual images didn’t convey great enthusiasm. Before the speaking started, the winner and loser sat in the front row, with an empty chair between them. After Fried spoke, Crist gave his former foe a hug.”
COMING TO A COURTROOM — “‘Ghost’ candidate to testify Seminole GOP chair asked her to run,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Annie Martin: “Jestine Iannotti, whose independent candidacy was central to an apparent vote-siphoning scheme in a competitive Central Florida state Senate race in 2020, is expected to testify in court next week that Seminole County GOP Chairman Ben Paris asked her to run. According to a Thursday court filing, Iannotti will take the witness stand at Paris’ criminal trial, which begins Monday. He is facing a misdemeanor charge that he contributed to Iannotti’s candidacy in his cousin’s name.”
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Did anti-abortion ruling lead to sitting Hillsborough County judge’s defeat?” by Tampa Bay Times’ William March: “Hillsborough County Democrats are exuberant about Nancy Jacobs’ defeat of Circuit Judge Jared Smith in Tuesday’s primary, saying it signals that backing reproductive rights will energize voters in November. Jacobs, who practices criminal defense and family law, has run unsuccessfully for judge twice before. She defeated Smith 52-48 percent after a contentious campaign in which a decision by Smith denying a minor permission for an abortion was an issue.”
— “Anti-China group airs ads criticizing Val Demings,” by Florida Politics’ Jacob Ogles
COMING SOON? — Judge orders redacted release of Mar-a-Lago affidavit, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein: A federal magistrate judge has ordered the unsealing of a redacted affidavit laying out the Justice Department’s evidence for the Aug. 8 search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into mishandling of classified information, theft of government records and obstruction of justice. Judge Bruce Reinhart instructed prosecutors to make the partially-obscured document public on the court’s docket by noon Friday. The Justice Department resisted making even a redacted version of the affidavit public, warning that any acceptable redactions would be so extensive as to render the document meaningless. It’s unclear whether the department will seek to appeal the order, which could produce further delays.
— “Trump’s social media app facing financial fallout,” by Fox Business’ Charlie Gasparino and Eleanor Terrett
A GIFT TO COMMUTERS— “Frequent Florida toll road drivers could soon get SunPass credits up to 25%,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner: “Frequent users of many toll roads could get discounts averaging about $10 a month for the next six months, under a plan Gov. Ron DeSantis rolled out Thursday. With the general-election campaign fully underway, DeSantis said he hopes to expand the toll-discount plan as part of a larger tax-cut package during the 2023 legislative session that starts in March. DeSantis said offering breaks to motorists would help offset inflation that he contends will be exacerbated by President Joe Biden’s executive order Wednesday to forgive student-loan debt. Toll discounts will be applied starting Sept. 1 to trips involving cars, SUVs and pickup trucks when the motorists are in good standing with their SunPass or other Florida transponder accounts.”
HMM — “Is CFO Patronis calling to end insurance discounts for properties preparing for climate change?” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ron Hurtibise: “In a meeting of the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday, [Chief Financial Officer Jimmy] Patronis called on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to assess the role of ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’ — or ESG — standards in insurance markets ‘so Florida can better fight back.’
But there’s this— “Curiously, one of the practices that Patronis cited as a product of ‘the cult of ESG’ — providing favorable insurance rates to owners who protect their properties against hurricanes, floods and extreme weather events that scientists say are becoming more frequent because of climate change — has been required under Florida law for years. And the Department of Financial Services, overseen by Patronis, is planning to launch a program that will provide $2 for every $1 that homeowners spend to protect against windstorms.”
— “Gov. DeSantis denounces Biden’s ‘very unfair’ student loan relief package,” by Florida Phoenix’s Michael Moline
THE FLORIDA CONNECTION — Two plead guilty to trafficking Ashley Biden’s diary, property, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein: Two Florida residents pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiring to trafficking in stolen goods for selling a diary and other personal effects of President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley Biden, the Justice Department said. The criminal charges are the first to emerge from a federal investigation into how, prior to the 2020 presidential election, the journal reached the conservative video outlet Project Veritas. The group has said it paid for rights to publish the diary, but never did so because it couldn’t authenticate it. Contents from the diary later emerged on a more obscure conservative site.
In court— In a Manhattan federal court hearing on Thursday, Aimee Harris, 40, of Palm Beach and Robert Kurlander, 58, of Jupiter each pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy charge stemming from their involvement in selling the journal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said in a statement. “Harris and Kurlander stole personal property from an immediate family member of a candidate for national political office,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.
CRISIS, WHAT CRISIS?— “Another property insurer exiting Florida’s troubled market,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders: “United Property & Casualty Insurance Co. will exit Florida’s troubled homeowners’ insurance market, forcing customers to find new coverage as their policies come up for renewal, the insurer’s parent company said Thursday. The St. Petersburg-based United Insurance Holdings Corp. said it has filed plans to withdraw from what are known as personal-lines markets in Florida, Texas and Louisiana. It also will file a withdrawal plan in New York. The parent company said the plans would “effectively place United P&C into an orderly run-off,” which means policies will be gradually dropped as they come up for renewal.”
FOR YOUR RADAR— “Private Florida school that bans LGBTQ students gets $1.6 million in tax dollars,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Leslie Postal and Annie Martin: “A Florida private school that made national headlines last week for telling parents that gay or transgender students ‘will be asked to leave the school immediately’ accepted more than $1.6 million in state scholarships last school year. Grace Christian School near Tampa, with about 470 students enrolled in grades in kindergarten through 12th grade, received state scholarships, often called vouchers, to cover tuition for more than 250 of those youngsters during the 2021-22 school year, according to data from the Florida Department of Education and Step Up For Students, the agency that administers most of Florida’s scholarship programs.”
‘MATERIAL ISSUES OF FACT’ — “Venezuelan tycoon shields US fortune from FARC rebel victims,” by The Associated Press’ Joshua Goodman: “An appeals court overturned a Florida federal judge’s order seizing the U.S. fortune of a sanctioned Venezuelan billionaire with alleged cartel ties to satisfy a $318 million judgment for the American victims of a Colombian terrorist kidnapping. Samark López is one of Venezuela’s most powerful businessmen, with close ties to that country’s socialist government. He has been indicted in New York for allegedly violating sanctions freezing his sizable wealth in the U.S., including yachts, aircraft, luxury real estate in Miami and a $269 million Citibank account.”
— “Broward schools will hire consultant to review grand jury report and ID any needed fixes,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Shira Moolten
— “City of Naples passes 60-day landlord notice before increase of rent,” by Naples Daily News’ Rachel Heimann Mercader
— “‘He dreams of killing.’ Warning about Parkland gunman fell through the cracks,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Rafael Olmeda
— “Bans on ‘conversion therapy’ are overturned in Broward and Palm Beach counties,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Lisa J. Huriash
BIRTHDAYS: State Sen. George Gainer … Christian Cámara, president of Chamber Consultants … Lindsey Curnutte … Pablo Ros …
(Saturday) State Rep. Robin Bartleman … Roger Stone … Former Florida LG Jennifer Carroll …. Melissa Stone, CEO Calvary Strategies … former state Rep. Wengay Newton … POLITICO’s Darius Dixon
(Sunday) Alan Levine, president and CEO of Ballad Health and member of the Florida Board of Governors