Former Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Gillum Indicted by Feds

Former Tallahassee Mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has been indicted on multiple charges connected to campaign contribution fraud before and during his 2018 run for governor of Florida. Gillum lost to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida unsealed the 21-count indictment on Wednesday. One of Gillum’s closest advisers, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, also was charged in the 21-count indictment. Gillum, 42, and Lettman-Hicks, 53, were arrested on Wednesday and were scheduled to have their first appearance Wednesday afternoon at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee.

The 26-page indictment indicates that the Gillum investigation was part of the comprehensive corruption probe that used undercover agents to get close to some of Tallahassee’s biggest movers and shakers. Former Tallahassee Mayor and City Commissioner Scott Maddox and his associate Paige Carter-Smith, along with Tallahassee businessman J.T. Burnette were recently sentenced to prison as a result of the probe.

The indictment alleges that between 2016 and 2019, defendants Gillum and Lettman-Hicks conspired to commit wire fraud, by unlawfully soliciting and obtaining funds from various entities and individuals through false and fraudulent promises and representations that the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose.

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DeSantis Responds to Furor Over COVID Shots for Children: ‘The White House Is Lying’

The DeSantis Administration is pushing back on comments by the White House press secretary and media reports that claim Florida has reversed course related to COVID shots for children. Florida made news as the only state not to pre-order the COVID vaccine for children six months to five years of age.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the vaccines for emergency use on June 17 for children as young as 6 months and the CDC recommended everyone ages 6 months and older get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for the Florida Department of Health, said the department “chose not to participate” in the vaccination program because the state health department is not following federal public health recommendations.

Governor Ron DeSantis also commented on the situation.

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Gov. DeSantis Signs Legislation to Strip Walt Disney Company of Self-Governing Status

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Friday to strip Walt Disney World’s special status that granted the amusement park broad powers to self-govern.

The old agreement, which took place in 1967, has permitted the venue to work as a quasi-governmental agency and maintain the same authority as a county government.

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Florida Senate Passes Bill Dissolving Disney’s Special Self-Governing Power

The Florida Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that strips away Disney’s special self-governing status after the company publicly opposed a parental rights bill that was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis late last month.

Disney released a scathing statement after the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill was officially signed into law.

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Governor DeSantis Calls Special Legislative Session After Vetoing Congressional Maps

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday issued a proclamation to establish a special legislative session, following his veto of the state’s proposed congressional maps.

According to the governor, sections of the map approved by lawmakers are unconstitutional; therefore, they must be redrawn.

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Democrat Gubernatorial Hopeful Nikki Fried Attacks DeSantis over Plane Purchases She Once Supported

Gubernatorial candidate and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat, teamed up with Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson to promote questionable claims related to Governor Ron DeSantis and the state’s purchase of airplanes for executive travel.

On March 12, Wilson noted in a tweet that he had called out DeSantis for adding private jets to the state budget.

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States Should Follow Florida’s Holocaust Education Standards, Says Tennessee Textbook Commissioner Laurie Cardoza-Moore

Laurie Cardoza-Moore

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, a member of Tennessee’s Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality commission, argued that states should follow Florida’s approach to Holocaust education.

According to Cardoza-Moore, the curriculum supported by Governor Ron DeSantis gives Holocaust education and American history the high “level of instruction they deserve.”

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Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez Holds Roundtable in Effort to Spotlight Dangers of Human Trafficking

Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez on Friday held a roundtable discussion to highlight the dangers of human trafficking in the state.

The discussion, which included multiple government officials and experts on the issue, detailed that 40 percent of victims in Miami-Dade County are minors.

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Governor Ron DeSantis Shreds Biden over Decision to Revoke Emergency Use Authorization for Monoclonal Antibody Treatments

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shredded President Joe Biden’s administration over the decision to revoke the emergency use authorization for Regeneron and Eli Lilly monoclonal antibody treatments.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the treatments are not effective against the Omicron variant. Because the variant accounts for most cases of the coronavirus across the country, leaders of the agency limited its use.

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Florida’s COVID Numbers Continue to Decline, Reports Lowest Daily Cases per Capita in U.S.

Florida’s positive coronavirus cases have continued to decline over recent weeks, allowing the state to report the lowest number of cases per capita in the country.

According to data compiled by The New York Times, the state has an average of 1,393 cases per day, as of Friday. The average represents approximately six cases per 100,000.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Washington Dysfunction Hurting Florida Transportation Projects

In a press release on Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis called attention to the impacts congressional inaction and dysfunction are beginning to have on transportation projects in Florida.

“Yet again, the delays in Washington are impacting the lives of Floridians,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “It is unacceptable that Congress or the Biden Administration would use highway construction as a bargaining chip and leave Florida taxpayers to foot the bill. This is even more proof that the Democrats in leadership don’t want to help people, they don’t want to get anything done, they just want to follow a political agenda.”

And DeSantis is not alone in his criticism.

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Commentary: Democrats Repeat the Mistakes of 2016

Donald Trump waving

As we get to the midpoint between the last presidential election and next year’s midterms, all political sides are expending extraordinary effort to ignore the 900-pound gorilla in the formerly smoke-filled room of American politics. This, of course, is Donald Trump.

The Democrats are still outwardly pretending Trump has gone and that his support has evaporated. They also pretend they can hobble him with vexatious litigation and, if necessary, destroy him again by raising the Trump-hate media smear campaign back to ear-splitting levels.

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Florida’s Unemployment Rate Falls, Remains Below National Rate

Florida’s unemployment rate fell to 5.0 percent in August, down 0.1 percent from the July reported rate of 5.1 percent.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced Florida has experienced 16 consecutive months of job growth, gaining 19,400 private sector jobs over the month. In total, Florida has gained 990,400 jobs since April 2020.

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida’s unemployment rate is decreasing,” said Secretary Dane Eagle of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “This positive sign shows that Floridians are returning to work and Florida’s economy continues to provide opportunities for meaningful employment. I look forward to working with Floridians to continue these economic successes.”

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States Banning Mask Mandates Could Face Civil Rights Probes, on Biden’s Directive

President Biden is ratcheting up opposition to Republican governors blocking COVID mask mandates in schools, putting in charge the Education Department, which is raising the possibility of using its civil rights arm to oppose such policies.

Biden on Wednesday ordered Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “assess all available tools” that can be used against states that fail to protect students amid surging coronavirus cases.

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Drug Overdoses on the Rise in Florida

Spilled pill bottle on table top with a spoon underneath

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses are on the rise in Florida. Specifically, the death toll rose by about 37 percent from 2019 to 2020 in Florida.

One of the most notable trends was the amount of synthetic opioid fentanyl in Florida, and how so many people have become dependent upon drugs to cope with the COVID pandemic and economic hardship.

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Questions About Nikki Fried Begin to Surface

Nikki Fried

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has long been rumored to be challenging Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for the 2022 gubernatorial race but has yet to make a campaign launch official.

However, last week, on Twitter, she made an announcement indicating “something new” is coming on June 1 through a video.
Since she posted the video, news and political commentary about Fried and her personal relationships, business interests, potential ethical questions, and how they all fit together have entered the conversation in light of an impending campaign launch.

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Nikki Fried Demands Answers About Piney Point, Environmental ‘Ticking Time Bombs’

The State of Florida is set to put $115 million into the clean-up of the Piney Point phosphate plant in Manatee County after a reservoir leak led to sulfate emissions, evacuations over a potential reservoir wall collapse, and a potential flood leading to contaminated water in Manatee County. Now, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is asking Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein what his agency knows about other potential environmental disasters.

Due to a leak in early April, 200 million gallons of wastewater were dumped into Tampa Bay, and its impact is still unknown. Discharges from Piney Point stopped on April 9, and DEP teams have been monitoring the discharge site to see if it resumes. So far, no more discharges have taken place.

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Florida Legislature Sends Vaping Regulations to DeSantis

Jackie Toledo

The Florida Legislature passed SB 1080, installing new vaping regulations, sending it to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill will also raise the smoking and vaping age to 21, falling in line with federal standards.

Bill sponsor, Rep. Jackie Toldeo (R-60) said the bill is necessary to encourage Florida’s youth to stop vaping.

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Florida Bill Allows Colleges, Universities to Sponsor Charter Schools

On Monday, the Florida Senate passed SB 1028 which would allow Florida’s colleges and universities to sponsor an unlimited number of charter schools. Under current law, colleges and universities can, through the Florida Department of Education’s approval, sponsor one school.

A state university is permitted to work with a school district to develop a charter school but can only sponsor one. Now, there is no limit to the amount of charter schools an institution can sponsor.

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Florida Legislature Hearing Bills to Curb Foreign Influence

Florida House Chamber

The Florida Legislature is working through two pieces of legislation aimed at curbing foreign influence in Florida’s colleges and universities, primarily research institutions.

The Florida House has already passed HB 7017 unanimously and sent it to the Senate for consideration. The bill will require state agencies and political subdivisions to disclose foreign grants and donations of over $50,000 or more to the state. Also, all donations of any size will be required to be reported from seven hostile nations. Among those nations deemed hostile are: China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela.

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Parental Bill of Rights Legislation Heads to DeSantis’ Desk

The Florida Legislature passed a bill instituting a “parental bill of rights” and sent it to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis.

The bill, HB 241, worked its way through the Florida House and then passed through the Florida Senate on Thursday. It was passed on a nearly party-line vote, with Sen. Lauren Book (D-32), the lone Democrat, siding with Republicans and voting to approve the bill.

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Florida Anti-Riot Law Facing Court Challenge

Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1, known as the “anti-riot bill” on Monday, and is now facing a constitutional challenge. The challenge was filed Wednesday and the civil rights attorneys behind the challenge are saying the new laws unconstitutionally “seek to arrest the peaceful expression of free speech.”

The bill is designed to enhance penalties for criminals committing acts of violence during riots.

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Orange County Seeks to Relax Mask Mandate by June

Jerry Demings

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the municipality is putting together a plan to relax its mask mandate by as early as June.
“We are working with the department of health on a plan to phase reducing requirements of wearing facial coverings and social distancing,” Demings said. “We are reviewing how CDC requirements are evolving along with COVID infection data and a plan will be announced soon.”

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DeSantis Signs Anti-Riot Legislation

On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1, known as the “anti-riot” bill into law during a press conference in Winter Haven.

Surrounding DeSantis was Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and other deputies where DeSantis said, “If you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation, it is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country. There’s just nothing even close.”

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DeSantis Signs E-Fairness Bill

Just before midnight Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 50 instituting sales tax requirements for online retailers, into law. 

The bill requires out-of-state online retailers to collect and report sales taxes on purchases made by Floridians. The tax will bring in an estimated $1 billion in revenue, as well as limit taxes paid by Floridians and Florida businesses.

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