Jimmy Patronis

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.

Scott and the U.S. Senate: If history’s the judge…

Need a hint about what Gov. Rick Scott may be up to on April 9?

After Scott tweeted Monday that a big announcement was coming April 9, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a two-time statewide appointee of the governor, tweeted out a “#TriviaTime” comment.

Answer: April 9, 2010 is when Scott filed his initial paperwork to run for the governor’s office. The same day, Scott also dumped $2 million of his own money into the contest. Another $71.2 million of his family money for the campaign would follow.

Scott’s announcement Monday that Brad Piepenbrink was replacing longtime Scott aide Jackie Schutz Zeckman as the governor’s chief of staff sent Capitol insiders into a spin.

Zeckman’s departure unleashed the latest round of speculation (might she join his “Let’s Get to Work” political organization?) about whether Scott’s entrée into the race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is imminent in what, if it happens, would be one of Florida’s Worst-kept Political Secrets of All Time.

— By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

Yes, he did! Patronis slides into Cabinet tradition (with pic)

DViJcFUVoAAjAV4Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis took Attorney General Pam Bondi up on her “double dog dare” about going down the Big Slide on the opening day of the Florida State Fair.

While Patronis appears to have left his potato sack behind, Gov. Rick Scott seems to have once again avoided rollicking good time.

“The Florida State Fair slide is one of the best parts of my official duties,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam tweeted following today’s Cabinet meeting in Tampa.

On Wednesday, Bondi teased Patronis — who attended his first fair as a Cabinet member Thursday — about the annual trip down the slide.

Patronis poked back, with a reference to doggie-loving Bondi’s adoption recruitment efforts.

 — By Jim Turner.

Will he or won’t he? Patronis and the Cabinet slide

Commissioner-Slide_bannerThere is a high probability Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis won’t miss the chance for a wacky good time with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi if they go on the Giant Slide on Thursday.

This will be Patronis’ first appearance as a member of the Cabinet when the state officials hold a largely ceremonial meeting in Tampa timed with the kick-off of the  Florida State Fair.

Typically, members of the Cabinet take to the slide if the weather is good. Putnam has done the slide in his cowboy boots, while Bondi has kept her heels on, and Gov. Rick Scott isn’t known for partaking in the plunge. No news yet on what kicks Patronis might sport, if he joins in the fun.

A “flip the switch” event kicks off the fair at 6:15 a.m., then Putnam — a Republican who’s running for governor — will host a “Fresh From Florida” breakfast prior to an agenda-lite Cabinet meeting in the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center Pavilion, which starts at 9 a.m.

By Jim Turner.

Will Florida’s new CFO put down the seating chart?

patronis Florida’s next chief financial officer may not be seating the next table of four.

An emotional Jimmy Patronis — a former state lawmaker from Panama City who resigned his post on the Public Service Commission Gov. Rick Scott tapped him for the $128,972-a-year spot as Florida’s banker-in-chief — said Monday his phone has blown up as news of the appointment spread.

“I’ve gotten probably about 200 text messages over the last 24 hours,” Patronis said after Scott formally announced the appointment at Patronis’s Captain Anderson‘s Restaurant and Waterfront Market in Panama City. “And probably the most popular one is, ‘Does that mean I can’t contact you anymore to get a table at the restaurant?’ ”

Patronis, who will be sworn in Friday to replace Jeff Atwater, was an early political supporter of Scott’s in 2010.

That fact wasn’t missed by the Florida Democratic Party, which quickly blasted Scott’s selection of Patronis to replace Atwater, who stepped down to take a post at Florida Atlantic University, as “cronyism.”

Scott has used the dockside restaurant for a number of political events, including one of his “work days” back in 2011, when the governor was trying to personalize the issue of unemployment.

“He made me work really hard,” Scott said of Patronis on Monday. “He didn’t let me off the hook. He made sure I sold a dessert to everyone that was here.”

The Patronis family has deep ties in Panama City, where they have owned the popular Captain Anderson’s for five decades. The name is affixed throughout the community, including an elementary school on land donated by the family down the road from the restaurant.

Posted by Jim Turner