News

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Tallahassee - Jesse Panuccio, executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, is stepping down, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday morning. Since being appointed to the post in 2013, Panuccio has led the department through controversy over technical problems with the online filing system for unemployment benefits and been one of Scott’s top advisers in jobs and economic development. His last day will be Jan. 8, 2016. According to a letter of resignation, he is leaving, “to begin a new chapter of my career and life.” The governor’s office released that Panuccio will “pursue new opportunities.” The resignation comes just before the start of a new legislative session, when Panuccio will be up for confirmation in the Senate, a chamber that has been highly critical of him and which did not confirm him last year. Read more in Tampa Bay Times   Jessie Panuccio is featured on Episode 28: Launch Fraud Protection
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TALLAHASSEE — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a rising figure in Democratic politics, is actively taking calls about mounting a primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, whose seat was drastically altered as part of a long-running redistricting legal challenge. “People are reaching out to Mayor Gillum because Washington desperately needs the type of energy and focus he brings every day as mayor,” said Kevin Cate, a longtime Gillum adviser. “He’s listening and will make his decision on how he can best continue creating new jobs and opportunities, while also being a great husband and father.” With Florida Democrats viewed as having a short candidate bench, Gillum, 36, has long been considered destined for higher office.  That buzz intensified when the Florida Supreme Court ended a long running congressional redistricting lawsuit by selecting a map that draws Brown’s Jacksonville-based 5th Congressional District in a configuration stretching west to the Tallahassee region. Read more in POLITICO
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TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott reiterated his tough stance on Syrian refugees Tuesday, saying they should not be allowed in the state and that Congress should not allow any federal money to be used for relocation purposes. Scott told a group of reporters who had gathered in his office it was time to “pause” Syrian resettlement efforts after attacks in Paris killed at least 129 people last week. “We will figure out what happened and make sure everybody stays safe,” Scott said. “I am responsible for nearly 20 million Floridians. The most important thing we can do is to keep people safe.” After the revelation that at least one Paris attacker had entered Europe by apparently posing as a Syrian refugee, some Republicans, including Scott, have pushed back against President Barack Obama's promise to accept 10,000 refugees from the war-torn nation next year. Keep reading in Politico. 
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Former Florida First Lady Rhea Chiles, the wise and gentle “inner voice” of her husband’s remarkable political career, died Sunday at her home on Anna Maria Island. She was 84. Mrs. Chiles was surrounded by family members. A family spokesman said she had been in declining health and in hospice care, but died at home. “While she has faced health challenges over the last several years, up until the last three or four months, she continued to do the things she loved best – enjoying family and friends, painting and encouraging others,” the family’s statement said. The former Rhea Grafton of Coral Gables married attorney Lawton M. Chiles of Lakeland in 1951. He was elected to the Florida Legislature in 1958, with his wife assisting in his campaigns, and in 1970 she conceived the unique attention-getting ploy of walking the length and breadth of the state – from Century at the Alabama line to the end of the Florida peninsula – in a longshot race for the U.S. Senate. Continue reading in the Tallahassee Democrat.  
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MIAMI — Donald Trump remains the clear frontrunner in Florida and, a new poll of likely Republican voters shows, he can partly thank the unlikeliest of people for that: Jeb Bush. With the former Florida governor in the crowded primary for president, Trump leads with a solid 27 percent support, with Sen. Marco Rubio a distant second at 16 percent, followed by Dr. Ben Carson (15 percent), and Sen. Ted Cruz and Bush (about 12 percent each), according to Viewpoint Florida’s newly released survey of 2,047 likely Republican voters in the state. Without Bush in the race, Trump has a problem: He gets no added benefit, but Rubio’s support jumps up so that he almost ties the frontrunner, 24-27 percent. The rest of the GOP field is essentially unchanged.  Keep reading more in Politico
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Florida A&M University’s Board of Trustees Chairman has announced he will be stepping down as head of the school’s governing body. Following two failed attempts Thursday to fire FAMU President Elmira Mangum, Rufus Montgomery notified all 12 trustees in a letter Friday he would leave the chairman post but remain on the board until his term runs out in January. Montgomery indicated he could not effectively lead a divided board. The board was split in its wish to fire Mangum, voting 7 to 5 then 6 to 6 on separate motions. Continue reading in the Tallahassee Democrat.  
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Add this to the list of fundraisers that Florida lawmakers will be hosting and attending when they return to Tallahassee for committee work next week: House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, is helping State Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, raise money for the next job she hopes to have: Schools superintendent in Nassau County. Read more in Miami Herald 
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Uber, the hired-car company seeking to secure its presence in Florida, has taken on former Florida-based lobbyist Stephanie Smith to head up its external affairs in the Sunshine State. Smith will leave her Atlanta-based post as AT&T’s director of public affairs for Florida and Georgia. She’ll direct Uber’s media and public relations and lobbying efforts.
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Starting this month, state Rep. Greg Steube plans to hold four fundraisers in the span of 15 days as he attempts to jump from the House to a state Senate seat. The whirlwind fundraising binge was arranged because Steube, R-Sarasota, can’t raise money during parts of October, November, January and March -- and all of February -- when the Legislature is in session. But it’s also a sign of just how much cash must be raised to be competitive in a Senate race.
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WASHINGTON - It was late Thursday at the Capitol and the crowds had gone. Outside of House Speaker John A. Boehner’s suite, the halls were empty and silent, save for a police officer strolling through the rotunda. On the marble floor were pieces of masking tape with the names of elected officials scrawled in black, marking the places were they stood to greet Pope Francis hours earlier. Politico’s Jake Sherman and I stood there for an hour or so, steno pads in hand and trading stories, as we waited for Boehner to appear. We had heard rumors from several members that Boehner was mulling retirement and that, as a devout Catholic, he privately saw the pope’s congressional visit, which he had orchestrated, as a fitting denouement to his long political career. Continue reading Robert Costa's debrief in the The Washington Post.
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