POLITICO Florida Playbook: The state Senate’s Frank Artiles problem — Putnam’s Twitter flub — Jeb’s fishy deal —Trump’s Khan cash

04/20/2017 06:57 AM EDT

By Marc Caputo (mcaputo@politico.com; @MarcACaputo) with Bianca Padró Ocasio (bpadro@politico.com; @BiancaJoanie), Sergio Bustos (sbustos@politico.com; @sbustosFL) and the staff of POLITICO Florida

Good Thursday morning. It's Day 45 of the 60-day legislative session, and the state Senate has a Frank Artiles problem - because he has a bigoted, foul mouth problem. Democrats want him expelled, and some Republicans privately wouldn't mind seeing their peer go.

IN BLACK AND WHITE POLITICAL TERMS, if Republicans vote against expelling Artiles, they'll be accused of "backing a racist." But if Republicans boot one of their own from the Senate that they control, the GOP has a high chance of losing the newly drawn Miami swing seat, which Hillary Clinton won, 57 percent to 40 percent, last year. Said one: "If we get rid of Frank, there will be a special election. There will be no other races and all this attention. And guess what the special election will be about?"

THE CENSURE OPTION: There's a good chance enough Republicans will be comfortable with a formal Senate censure. What would that be? Who knows? But it sounds like something. There might not be the votes to remove Artiles anyway because, he says, enough Republicans will believe "the punishment doesn't fit the crime." Democrats would need to keep all 15 members opposed to him and pick up 12 Republicans to hit the chamber's two-thirds threshold to approve an expulsion.

BAD MATH - The Senate Rules Committee, which will receive an April 25 "special master" report to decide the next course of action, doesn't look like Artiles country. While Artiles won't name names, five of the six Republicans he referred to using a racial slur could sit on the committee: Negron's top lieutenants: Anitere Flores and the chair of the Rules Committee: Lizbeth Benacquisto. Other members of Negron's leadership team on the committee: Senate budget chair Jack Latvala and future Senate presidents Bill Galvano and Republican leader Wilton Simpson. Also, four Democrats sit on the 11-member committee, including Senate Democratic leader Oscar Braynon and the committee's vice chair, Perry Thurston, who chairs the black caucus and witnessed Artiles' rant. Both men want him expelled.

- "Defiant Artiles ready to fight back at black lawmakers calling for his ouster over racial term," by POLITICO Florida's Matt Dixon and Marc Caputo: Read more

- "Artiles asks for forgiveness after offensive remarks," by POLITICO Florida's Matt Dixon: Read more

- "Gov. Rick Scott calls Artiles comments 'disgusting' but declines to weigh in whether he should resign," by Tampa Bay Times' Alex Leary: Read more

- "Democratic gubernatorial candidates call for resignation of Artiles over racially offensive remark," by POLITICO Florida's Sergio Bustos: Read more

OOPS - "Did 'Putnam for Governor' Twitter message break election law?" by POLITICO Florida's Marc Caputo: Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam appeared to skirt state election law Wednesday when his Twitter account mistakenly posted a message that bore an "Adam Putnam for Governor" logo - even though he's not an official candidate yet. But Putnam's top consultant said the Twitter message wasn't the fault of the Republican or his political committee, Florida Grown. So he says no law was broken. Read more

GILLUM'S GLEE? - "Ethics board can't look into 'misuse of position,' lawyer advises," by the Tallahassee Democrat's Jeffrey Schweers: "The city's independent ethics board doesn't have the authority to investigate "misuse of position" of its officials and employees, and has even less teeth than the state Commission on Ethics, an attorney for the board told members this week ... Speaking before the board Tuesday, [Common Cause Florida's Peter] Butzin referred to what he called the "elephant in the room," - published reports about Mayor Andrew Gillum's use of city funds to buy a software program from a Democratic Party vendor to email potential donors and supporters of his gubernatorial campaign. Gillum apologized and repaid the city the $5,000 spent on the NGP VAN software, but the matter is being investigated by the Leon County Sheriff's Office." Read more

CLUBBING CURBELO -- "DNC chair Tom Perez calls out Carlos Curbelo in Miami," by Miami Herald's Amy Sherman: Curbelo 'voted for Trump's half-baked health care plan out of committee and what did he say? 'No one will lose coverage,' Perez said at the James L. Knight Center Wednesday. 'That's bullshit my friends.' ... Perez also called out Curbelo for how he doles out money from his leadership PAC. Perez said that Curbelo promised that his PAC to boost other Republicans would only go to those who supported Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) -- a program to help undocumented immigrants who arrived as children avoid deportation." Read more

... TALLAHASSEE REPORT ...

MORE MONEY - "Federal funds for hospitals could free up money for budget negotiations," by Naples Daily News' Alexandra Glorioso: "Lawmakers could see another $350 million to cover state expenses if they accept a deal announced last week by Gov. Rick Scott and the Trump administration to commit $1.5 billion to help hospitals that serve low-income patients who can't pay for care, the Senate's former president said." Read more

- Scott says Trump commits federal resources to fixing Lake O dike. Read more

UNCERTAINTY PREVAILS - "House work comp bill passes, but its future appears murky in Senate," by POLITICO Florida's Christine Sexton: The House on Wednesday passed a workers compensation bill that supporters say will reign in costs, like attorneys fees, but opponents claim it falls short in helping Florida's injured workers. Passed by a 71-41 vote, the bill cuts payments to hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers that treat injured workers, which may doom its passage in the Senate. Read more

MAJOR URSA HELP -- "Bear protection bill passes Senate committee after hunting moratorium removed," by POLITICO Florida's Bruce Ritchie: A bill dealing with black bear protection passed a Senate committee after it was rewritten to remove a 10-year moratorium on bear hunting. SB 1304 passed the Senate environmental committee as a debate on bear hunting raged among public speakers at a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting in nearby Gadsden County. The panel appeared unlikely Wednesday to approve a hunt in 2017. The bill is needed to protect Florida black bears and preserve their habitat from various threats, said Linda Stewart, a Democrat from Orlando and bill sponsor. Read more

-- "State wildlife director says agency not ready for another bear hunt," by POLITICO Florida's Bruce Ritchie: Read more

TAXI DEATH KNELL? -- "Uber-backed transportation bill heads to Scott's desk," by POLITICO Florida's Daniel Ducassi: Legislation that sets up a regulatory framework for ride-hailing app companies like Uber and Lyft is on its way to the governor's desk after sailing through the Florida Senate on Wednesday. The bill (HB 221) is based on model legislation negotiated between ride-hailing app companies and insurance companies, and has the backing of both Uber and Lyft, along with the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. Read more

TECH TUSSLE - "Bill to preempt local regulation of new cell tech clears final Senate panel," by POLITICO Florida's Daniel Ducassi: Read more

... TRUMPLANDIA ...

DON, WE HARDLY KNEW YA - "Goodbye, Mar-a-Lago. Hello, Bedminster: As the Florida resort season closes, residents near Trump's usual summer getaway at his golf club in New Jersey prepare for more security, and more protests," by POLITICO's Darren Samuelsohn and Kenneth P. Vogel: Read more

THE CASH OF KHAN - "Jaguars owner Shad Khan among NFL owners that gave $1M to Trump inauguration," by Bloomberg's Bill Allison and John McCormick: "Contributions from billionaires - including Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan - and corporations pushed President Donald Trump's inaugural committee to a new fundraising benchmark of $106.7 million, roughly twice the previous record set by former President Barack Obama's first inauguration. Among the biggest donors for the celebration of Trump's taking office in Washington were casino-owner billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, a filing of more than 500 pages made public Wednesday by the Federal Election Commission shows. Adelson gave $5 million, while Wynn donated $729,217 in entertainment through his Wynn Resorts." Read more

THE STONE ZONE - "Roger Stone helped Donald Trump get elected president - now he's helping himself," by The Washington Post's Manuel Roig-Franzia: "The directions to Roger Stone's worldwide headquarters of conspiracy theories, self-promotion and Nixonian arcana are - like much about Roger Stone - confusing and mysterious. The first version, received from Stone via text message, leads to a blanched, deserted parking lot next to a vacant building behind a chain-link fence in Oakland Park, north of Fort Lauderdale. A place called Scandals Saloon sits across the street, but it turns out Stone has sent the wrong address. 'Well, you will have to kill that lede,' says the man who knows enough about this dance with the journalistic profession to recognize what might have been a resonant detail in a first paragraph. Stone, after all, has seldom met a scandal he couldn't curl up with and adore." Read more

IMMIGRATION WARS - "Florida groups plea not to deport Nicaraguan asylum seeker," by AP's staff: "Immigrant rights groups are pleading to halt the deportation of a Nicaraguan appealing for asylum and investigate an alleged increase in detentions after routine immigration check-ins in South Florida. Espilvio Sanchez-Benavidez is to be deported after appearing at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office near Fort Lauderdale for a regular visit, his family says. The 25-year-old man applied for asylum in 2013 when he arrived through the Mexico border after receiving death threats following the killing of two relatives. A decision is pending after Sanchez-Benavidez appealed when asylum was denied in 2015 for lack of evidence. He has a wife from Honduras and a 3-year-old daughter born in the U.S." Read more

... AROUND THE STATE ...

FISHY DEAL - "Jeb Bush and Derek Jeter teaming up in pursuit of Miami Marlins," by Miami Herald's Douglas Hanks: "Jeb Bush and Derek Jeter have joined forces in their bid to buy the Miami Marlins, according to sources familiar with the talks. The former Florida governor and retired New York Yankees star once were rivals for the Major League Baseball franchise but now have teamed up to try and buy the team, the sources said. They are competing against a New York financier named Wayne Rothbaum, manager of Quogue Capital, a source close to the situation said. It is not known if other would-be suitors of the Marlins remain in the hunt. The alliance pairs one of Miami's most prominent political leaders - Bush lives in Coral Gables - with one of the most famous names in baseball. Jeter retired from the Yankees in 2014 and has a house in Tampa." Read more

HELP ME - "Mayor Curry asks Gov. Scott to intervene on behalf of Jacksonville company in international dispute," by Florida Times-Union's Tia Mitchell: "Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry made a trip to the Capitol Tuesday to ask Gov. Rick Scott to leverage his relationships in Washington to help a local company tied up in an Australia trade dispute. Curry introduced APR Energy Chairman and Chief Executive John Campion to Scott and explained the company's issues, which have tied up $44 million and could cost even more. He asked Scott to reach out to President Donald Trump in hopes of that the president can help bring the years-long case to resolution." Read more

MENENDEZ'S MAN - "Eye doctor tied to political corruption portrayed as caring," by AP's Terry Spencer: "The Medicare fraud trial of a prominent Florida eye doctor tied to corruption charges against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez wound toward its conclusion Tuesday with his lawyers portraying him as an innovative physician who didn't give up on his hard-to-treat patients. Dr. Salomon Melgen is charged with 76 counts for allegedly stealing up to $105 million from Medicare between 2008 and 2013 by performing useless tests and procedures on elderly and disabled patients." Read more

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR STAY - "A man spent 1,140 days in jail, then the Jacksonville State Attorney's Office said its murder case was 'weak'," by Florida Times-Union's Andrew Pantazi: "In a stunning and rare decision, a judge released a man accused of arson and murder three years after his arrest in light of a prosecutor's admission that the case against him was weak and even the medical examiner wasn't positive if Kathy Johnson's death was a homicide at all. Randal Wagoner, who was a truck driver in Bradford County before he was arrested in March 2014, has maintained his innocence ever since police first said he killed Kathy Lorraine Johnson and burned down the building she lived in. He was scheduled to go to trial next week, but instead he was released without bond as prosecutors continue their investigation, citing the many holes that defense attorneys successfully poked at expert testimony. For the time being, he still faces the murder and arson charges." Read more

DEATH PENALTY POLITICS - "Aramis Ayala sought advice regarding death penalty stance prior to announcement," by Orlando Sentinel's Gal Tziperman Lotan: "Even as her office said it was planning to seek the death penalty in six cases, Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala received advice in February from organizations that are against capital punishment about how to avoid discussing the issue, her emails show. Ayala - who did not speak about her position on the death penalty while she ran against incumbent State Attorney Jeff Ashton - announced on March 16 that she will not seek capital punishment against anyone, using phrasing sent to her by an anti-death penalty organization. An infographic sent to Ayala by Stefanie Faucher of the 8th Amendment Project says: 'The death penalty traps victims' families in a decades-long cycle of uncertainty, court hearings, and waiting.'" Read more

OPIATE WARS - "Rubio visits Pensacola to discuss curbing opioid crisis," by Pensacola News Journal's Kevin Robinson: "In Florida, both heroin and fentanyl deaths increased by more than 70 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to a report by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission." Read more

... ODDS, ENDS AND FLORIDA MEN ...

420 TIME - "Pot parties galore on 4/20 Day, but be careful if having a toke or two," by Miami Herald's Howard Cohen: "Happy World Cannabis Day. Thursday, make that 4/20, is the unofficial pot-smokers holiday that takes place every year on April 20. Not to be outdone, South Florida is high on the day with pot-celebrating events on tap - even in, oh-my, conservative Coral Gables where the Eating House restaurant, under chef Giorgio Rapicavoli's lead, hosts its sixth annual pot-inspired day-long dine for herb-lovers and those who love herb-lovers ... But can you party with a toke or two without fear of arrest? Well, yes (kind of) and no. Yes (kind of) if you puff at home - within limits." Read more

- "Munchies 420 Cafe celebrates 15 years of high times," by Herald-Tribune's Jimmy Geurts: Read more

- "From Opa-locka to Fox News, the meteoric rise and fall of Bill O'Reilly," by Miami Herald's Glenn Garvin: Read more

- "Guantánamo base kills plan to save feral cats," by Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg: Read more

- "Man naked on Florida road is later caught driving naked," by Palm Beach Post's Ryan DiPentima: Read more

- "Florida man accused of forcibly trying to disrobe laundromat employee," by Palm Beach Post's Sarah Elsesser: Read more

- "Osceola teacher brought another teacher into closet and battered her, deputies say," by Orlando Sentinel's Christal Hayes: Read more

- "Disney believes in Cape Coral teen's mangrove magic," by News-Press.com's Stacey Henson: Read more

- "Bond increased for Citra woman linked to terrorism probe," by Ocala Star Banner's Austin L. Miller: Read more

- "Woman charged in vodka-bottle attack," by The Gainesville Sun's Deborah Strange: Read more

- "Duval County School Board won't counter with offer to Superintendent Vitti," by Florida Times-Union's Denise Amos: Read more

- Craig Pittman @craigtimes: "#Endangered #Florida #panther crosses into Central #Florida, becomes 8th roadkill death of 2017 via @ChadGillisNP"http://newspr.es/2oXefK7

REMOTE CONTROL CREEP - "Whiskey Creek man warned after neighbors say drone followed children," by News-Press.com's Michael Braun: "Drones being used to watch children at play and swimming in one south Fort Myers neighborhood were enough to draw the ire of neighbors and the attention of the Lee County Sheriff's Office. The activities of two different drones on separate dates were noticed by neighbors in the Whiskey Creek area of south Fort Myers. A man who neighbors said used the drones fitted with cameras to follow neighborhood children was spoken to by LCSO deputies. One neighbor reported a drone flying over his backyard on Monday where his children were swimming. He said his children told him that they had been followed by another drone previously." Read more

LOVE ISN'T JUST A TENNIS SCORE - "Sex sounds interrupt tennis match at Sarasota Open," by Herald-Tribune's Doug Fernandes: "There's love at every tennis match, but not the kind spectators were expecting Tuesday night during the Sarasota Open. The amorous doubles team, grunting and groaning enough to make even Monica Seles blush, couldn't be told to get a room. They already had one, inside a condo located about 200 feet from the court at James T. Driscoll Stadium on which Americans Frances Tiafoe and Mitchell Krueger were attempting to play a first-round match without being subjected to a case of, you know, tennis interruptus. An audible one. 'Yeah, because it's quiet while you're playing, obviously. You could hear a pin drop and it was, yeah, interesting,' said Open director Tony Driscoll." Read more

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