Ron DeSantis

DeSantis team defends judge … on Twitter

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office pushed back Wednesday against a news website that questioned the residency of a recently appointed judicial circuit judge.

The Florida Daily reported Tuesday the Seminole County Property Appraiser’s website lists Michael Kraynick as holding a homestead in Seminole County, “about two miles over the border from Orange County since 2016.”

The website also noted that Kraynick, in his application to the Judicial Nominating Commission, listed the Seminole County address for his home and voter registration.

The state Constitution requires justices and judges to live and be registered to vote within their court’s jurisdiction.

DeSantis’ spokeswoman Helen Ferre tweeted Wednesday the residency issue was corrected before Kraynick took the oath of office.

In June, DeSantis appointed Kraynick and Diego Madrigal III as judges in the 9th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Orange and Osceola counties.

In the release from the governor’s office, Kraynick is listed as a resident of Winter Park, which is an Orange County suburb.

— By Jim Turner.

Gwen Graham tweet storm credits DeSantis ‘puppeteers’ for post-election ‘bait and switch’

Former congresswoman Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Florida governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham who last year sought the Democratic nomination for governor, went on a Twitter rant Monday morning against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his “puppeteers.”

Graham lost a heated primary bid for the Democratic nomination to former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who was defeated by DeSantis in November.

In her first tweet storm, Graham called the legislative session that ended in May “the worst ever, if you care about the future of Florida,” hitting on voting rights, education, LGBTQ rights, guns and other issues.

Here’s the rest of Graham’s Twitter posts:

“If DeSantis actually cared about increasing the opportunities for Floridians to vote, he would have vetoed that bill. If he actually cared about our environment, he would have vetoed the toll road to nowhere. (The plastic straw veto was the “bait” on that one.)

“If DeSantis actually cared about a quality education for all students, he would have shunned the advances of @JebBush/@richardcorcoran and the for profit education industry in Florida. I was sick when I heard about Corcoran becoming Commissioner. The man hates public education.

“If DeSantis actually cared about the LGBTQ community, he would have expanded anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. A “bait” trip to the Pulse nightclub without action is just what it is – a photo op and nothing more.

“If DeSantis was concerned about gun violence and mass shootings, he would have vetoed the @NRA bill that arms our teachers. More guns =‘s more deaths. Hard stop. But, with an NRA endorsed, A rated Gov, Marion Hammer got what she wanted. Even @SenRickScott stood up to her on that.

“If DeSantis wanted to prove that he wasn’t a Lil’ Trump, he would not have supported the unnecessary bill banning sanctuary cities. In a state as diverse as Florida, the Gov sent the message that he is okay with stoking fear, hatred and divisiveness. Just like @realDonaldTrump.

“So, to those who say, “He isn’t as bad as I thought he would be.” I say, “Congrats to the DeSantis’ puppeteers.” And, to anyone who cares about Florida and her future, stop taking their bait. What the Governor has done is far worse than bad. Tragically a lot of time to go.”

— By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

 

Book pushes for state probe of Epstein work-release deal

Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat, is trying to rally support behind her call for Gov. Ron DeSantis order a state investigation into how the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office handled sex offender Jeffrey Epstein while he was in its custody more than a decade ago.

Book, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who says she’s gotten calls to “back off” her investigation request, wants people to “stand” with her in demanding an “independent investigation.”

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Book’s making the ask through the website of Lauren’s Kids, the non-profit organization she founded aimed at preventing child sexual abuse.

Book is using social media to drum up support for her effort.

DeSantis said last week he was considering whether state law-enforcement officials had an oversight role.

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has started an internal affairs and criminal investigations into the Epstein matter.

Epstein is facing sex-trafficking charges involving minors in Florida and New York. A federal judge in New York has denied a request for bail.

Epstein previously served 13 months of an 18-month sentence after he pleaded guilty in 2008 to two state prostitution charges in Florida, including procuring a minor for sex.

The plea required him to register as a sex offender. While in custody, Epstein was housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County stockade, according to the Miami Herald, which has done extensive reporting on Epstein.

After more than three months in custody, Epstein was provided work release for up to 12 hours a day, six days a week, the Herald reported.

“I know they are investigating it down in Palm Beach, but clearly when you look at how that happened, even if, like, 10 percent of the things about him are true, then that whole (plea) agreement was suspect and woefully below what he should have faced,” DeSantis said Thursday. “I’ll look at it and see, can the state can exercise some good oversight there.”

By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

About all that hype over Boeing’s move … much ado about not much?

Boeing’s relocation of its Space and Launch division headquarters from northern Virginia to the Space Coast will be more aspirational than material when completed later this year, as few actual jobs are tied to the move.

“We’re not sharing numbers now, but it will be a small number of senior divisional leaders and support staff,” replied Dan Beck, a spokesman for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, on Wednesday.

Transplanted workers, who will start moving this summer, will occupy a Boeing facility already in Titusville, Beck added.

Seattle-based Boeing, which for six decades has maintained a presence at Cape Canaveral, noted in a release that the move won’t impact company space operations in California, Texas, Alabama, Colorado and Louisiana.

Still, the move was heralded by Florida officials as a testament to the Sunshine State being a leader in innovation and job growth.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a release he expects the move will “bring increased investment to the Space Coast,” while state Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican from Brevard County, in the same release said, “Florida families will benefit from this great news.”

Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, said the move “solidifies Florida’s position in becoming the global leader in space exploration.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott declared in a release that “it’s no surprise that Boeing chose our great state.”

And U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio described the announcement as Florida continuing “to be a leader in space exploration and development.”

State Rep. Tyler Sirois, a Merritt Island Republican, called the move “the latest example of Florida’s resurgent commercial aerospace industry.”

In its release, Boeing noted the timing comes as the company increases a partnership with U.S. Air Force partners at Cape Canaveral and with the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base.

“Expanding our Boeing presence on the Space Coast brings tremendous value for our commercial and government space programs,” said Jim Chilton, Space and Launch senior vice president, in a company release.

— By Jim Turner.

 

Jerusalem hearts DeSantis

It appears Gov. Ron DeSantis and his cast of 100 lawmakers, business leaders and university officials earned some love from the locals during an economic-development mission in Israel.

The sojourn, which included a “ceremonial” meeting of DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet generated some controversy back home.

But The Jerusalem Post editorial board gave the Republican governor a big thumbs up as the tour wrapped up Thursday.

“Thank You, Gov. DeSantis,” the headline on the editorial read, right above a pull-out quote from DeSantis: “Florida will always stand with Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East.”

Below are some excerpts:

“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis showed once again that he is a true friend of Israel during his visit to the country this week.

Even before his trip to Israel, in the weeks after DeSantis was elected governor last year, he immediately took action on behalf of the Jewish state. Florida’s cabinet recognized Jerusalem as “Israel’s eternal capital,” invested $10 million in Israel Bonds and blacklisted Airbnb because of its plan to boycott listings in West Bank settlements, which the global company has since reversed,” the editorial begins.

The editorial board also praised DeSantis for trashing the BDS movement:

This week, DeSantis repeatedly spoke out against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, leading the first official trade mission to the West Bank led by a US governor – with two dozen business leaders. He is also leading the largest-ever official governor-led delegation to Israel.

“Antisemitism is driving the BDS movement, and you cannot separate the two,” he said at the Gush Etzion Industrial Zone on Wednesday, meeting with Jewish and Arab businesspeople who oppose boycotts. “We are not going to discriminate against certain Israelis – and if people do… we will take action accordingly.”

DeSantis pointed to the blatant hypocrisy of the BDS movement, whose leadership’s stated goal is the elimination of the Jewish state and that Jews do not have the right to self-determination.

“You have people that are willing to trade with Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world – some of the worst regimes in the world – and yet they only want to boycott the one Jewish and democratic state in the world,” he said.
“If you support BDS in Florida, you are dead, politically,” he added.

And here’s the kicker:

DeSantis’ friendship with Israel is at a level that should not be taken for granted. He has backed up his statements with actions, and showed a willingness to continue.

Thank you, Governor DeSantis.

Inquiring minds headed to Israel

Gov. Ron DeSantis is about to lead a four-day trip to Israel, with nearly 90 tag-alongs that include Cabinet members, top-tier lobbyists, state lawmakers and religious leaders.

The governor publicly announced the trip in April, but since then the planning of the trip and questions about it have largely been kept secret. But as the voyage gets closer, the drip-drop of details are putting a spotlight on some of what’s in store.

One lingering question is how much the trip will cost Florida taxpayers. DeSantis’ spokeswoman Helen Ferre said about 80 members of the entourage are paying their own way.

At least one person footing their own bill said they’re staying at the Hilton in Tel Aviv, where they’ll be joined by a number of other members of the delegation who may be traveling on the taxpayer dime.

What’s the cost for one of those rooms? Accommodations range from $556 to $1,133 per night, according to the hotel’s website.

While questions about the cost and the substance of state officials’ meetings remain, two news organizations have announced they will be sending reporters to keep Floridians informed.

As of Thursday afternoon, two reporters have signed on to take the trip to Israel: Jeff Schweers, a state government reporter with the USA TODAY Network in Florida, and AG Gancarski, a reporter with Florida Politics.

“Coming next week (and assuming he gets past customs), intrepid reporter @AGGancarski will be reporting from @GovRonDeSantis and the Florida Cabinet’s historic trip to Jerusalem,” tweeted Peter Schorsch, the publisher of Florida Politics.

Schweers also got a last-minute OK from his company to make the trip.

By Ana Ceballos.

Florida’s first Lottery chief to DeSantis: Axe the warning!

Tennessee Education Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove, who was Florida’s first Lottery secretary, is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a controversial measure that would require Lottery tickets and promotions to carry a warning that the games may be addictive.

The warnings could cause a $61 million hit to education in Florida, and could have a major impact on lottery sales nationally, according to Hargrove, who’s also the president of the World Lottery Association.

The Florida bill (HB 629) would require warnings to take up 10 percent of the space on the front of a ticket. Retailers also have to post warnings wherever the tickets are sold.

House Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, pushed the proposal.

“The bottom line is, what’s important for people to know is that (the) Lottery, unlike other types of things that we consider possibly habitual or dangerous, is carried out by the state and does nothing to warn people of its habitual nature,” the speaker told reporters earlier this month.

Hargrove said she’s not aware of any other state that requires a warning to take up 10 percent of the front of the ticket, and warned that the warning message will have a “substantial negative impact” not only on the Florida Lottery but on the industry as a whole.

The warning “interferes” with bar codes on the tickets, cautioned Hargrove, who repeatedly referred to the “good causes” supported by state lotteries in her letter to the governor.

And the warning will have a “substantial negative impact on the aesthetics of the ticket,” the 36-year Lottery veteran warned.

“The play area of the ticket is the core of the appeal of these games to the consumer. Reducing the play area of the ticket will reduce the entertainment and play value of the instant game,” she predicted.

Retailers may not want to sell the instant scratch-off games “due to the negative image this warning message conveys about addiction,” Hargrove added.

The warnings could lead to a $235 million reduction in Lottery sales, which would result in a $61 million hit to education. In addition, retailers would lose about $14.1 million in commissions.

Hargrove also said she’s worried that Florida’s warnings could spread to other states.

“Our industry would not want Florida to set in motion a trend in legislatures that ultimately leads to a reduction in dollars for lottery beneficiaries, including college scholarships, pre-K funding, healthcare funding, programs that support senior citizens and state budgets,” she wrote.