Hello. It’s Monday.
A shift in the wind— It’s only been a handful of days since deadly Hurricane Ian landed a devastating blow against the state, but the finger-pointing and political rhetoric is beginning to seep back in, especially over storm relief.
On the board— A part of the back-and-forth is based on a congressional vote late last week to pass a short-term spending bill that funds the government through mid-December but also includes disaster relief money. Sen. Rick Scott was among of the minority of 25 Senate Republicans who voted against this legislation, as did every Florida Republican in the House, including those representing storm-torn areas. (Sen. Marco Rubio was absent for the vote since he was in Florida.)
What the bill does— The legislation sent to President Joe Biden did not specifically include funding for recovery from Ian, but it contains billions of dollars for states grappling with natural disasters and gives flexibility to federal authorities to spend money on disaster assistance, which could benefit Floridians in the short-term.
Response — Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was among the Democrats who ripped into her Florida GOP colleagues over their vote. “Not one Florida Republican in Congress who was present, voted to put the interests of those suffering from tragedy above their own political fortunes,” Wasserman Schultz said. Manny Diaz, the Florida Democratic Party chair, said “this is a level of callous indifference and political indifference that boggles the mind.”
Also — Rep. Val Demings, who is challenging Rubio, said on Twitter on Sunday: “In the United States Senate, I’ll never put partisan politics over delivering disaster relief for Floridians.”
Counterpoint— Scott pushed back against the criticism and said he would have supported a stand-alone measure on disaster funding and noted that both he and Rubio support a supplemental relief package to help Floridians.
No to ‘pork’— Rubio, meanwhile, was asked during two separate Sunday television appearances about a vote against a relief package for Hurricane Sandy victims back in 2013. He responded by saying he has “consistently voted” for disaster relief for other communities, but he added that he would vote against any future bill if it has unrelated “pork” for other spending projects. “We will fight for the money as we have supported other states, but it’s needed for emergency relief,” Rubio told ABC.
— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official has been released, but Gov. DeSantis is expected to be in hurricane-damaged areas today, including southwest Florida.
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SITUATIONAL AWARENESS — Days after Hurricane Ian slammed into the state a little more than 621,000 home and businesses remain without power, according to new figures posted this morning by the Florida Public Service Commission. The death toll continues to grow. Official numbers from the state released on Sunday evening said there had been 58 fatalities associated with the storm, including 42 deaths in Lee County. Another number of note: as of Sunday, insurers had already reported $1.44 billion in estimated insured losses. That number is also expected to grow.
AFTERMATH — “‘We are tired, dirty and hungry’: Hurricane Ian survivors leave Fort Myers Beach on foot,” by Miami Herald’s Linda Robertson: “Feeling increasingly isolated in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Fort Myers Beach residents and renters continued to exit their devastated island by foot Sunday, four days after a 10-foot storm surge driven by 150 mph winds inundated Southwest Florida’s coastal communities. All access to Estero Island from bridges on its south and north ends has been blocked by Lee County Sheriff’s deputies to prevent vehicles and visitors from interfering with search and rescue efforts. A growing fleet of bulldozers and dump trucks is clearing debris.”
SURVIVORS — “Their paradise lost to Ian, Sanibel residents hope its spirit survives,” by Washington Post’s Molly Hennessy-Fiske: “The lighthouse survived Hurricane Ian, but the storm devastated much of the rest of Sanibel. It tore homes and apartment complexes apart, killing some residents. It flooded Periwinkle businesses, mobile home parks, condos and resorts, knocking out power, water and a stretch of the causeway, filling streets with debris and sticky gray mud. No one knows how long it will take to rebuild — much hinges on the three-mile bridge officials haven’t said will be repaired anytime soon — or how lasting the damage will be to the barrier island’s spirit.”
COMING SOON— Biden to visit hurricane-ravaged Florida and Puerto Rico, by POLITICO’s Myah Ward: President Joe Biden will travel to Florida and Puerto Rico next week to survey storm damage and meet with officials and residents after hurricanes battered both regions within a 10-day span. The White House announced Biden’s travel plans on Saturday after he made clear his intentions to visit both destinations earlier this week. The president and first lady Jill Biden will visit Puerto Rico on Monday and then Florida on Wednesday, the White House said. Biden spoke on Friday about the recovery efforts underway.
BLUNT ASSESSMENT — Ian will ‘financially ruin’ homeowners and insurers, by POLITICO’s Thomas Frank: Hurricane Ian is expected to financially ruin countless people in Florida whose homes were not covered by flood insurance when the storm inundated the region with powerful ocean surges and damaging downpours. The personal financial losses are a reflection of Ian’s intensity and the fact that millions of Americans nationwide haven’t bought flood insurance. The federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program — the dominant source of flood coverage in the U.S. — protects only a tiny fraction of homeowners, almost all of them in coastal areas.
— Officials assess massive hurricane damage as Florida begins long recovery, by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout
FALLOUT — “DeSantis defends early hurricane response as questions mount over evacuations,” by POLITICO’s Bruce Ritchie: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday defended the state’s early preparations for Hurricane Ian as questions remain over whether hard-hit areas received enough advance warning to evacuate. DeSantis said local officials in Lee County — where Ian made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane — acted appropriately when they issued evacuation orders on Tuesday, after the storm’s forecasted path had shifted from the eastern Panhandle to Tampa Bay and eventually further south to the Fort Myers area.
— “Facing a dire storm forecast in Florida, officials delayed evacuation,” by The New York Times’ Frances Robles, Mike Baker, Serge F. Kovaleski and Lazaro Gamio
— “‘In panic mode.’ Fear of not enough water, food, gas in Florida’s coastal towns after Ian,” by Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman and Joan Chrissos
— “Cape Coral residents worn out from Ian’s destruction, complain of lack of disaster relief,” by Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Stefania Lugli
— “Feds vow major aid for Hurricane Ian victims amid rescues,” by The Associated Press’ Bobby Caina Calvan and Mike Schneider
— “DeSantis says Elon Musk to help Southwest Florida regain internet connectivity after Hurricane Ian,” by USA Today Network-Florida’s John Kennedy
— “Florida Disaster Fund raises more than $20 million in 48 hours after launch,” by Florida Politics’ Anne Geggis
SIDESTEP — Scott declines to condemn Trump statement about McConnell’s ‘death wish,’ by POLITICO’s Olivia Olander: Republican Sen. Rick Scott avoided criticizing former President Donald Trump on Sunday, asked repeatedly about threatening and racist language posted by Trump against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife on Saturday. McConnell has a “DEATH WISH” because he is “approving” Democratic bills, Trump posted Saturday on his own social media platform, Truth Social. Scott, the Florida senator who is the leader of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, repeatedly deflected questions on the attack from one member of his party against another in an exchange with host Margaret Brennan on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “What I want to make sure is what I can do. I can try my best to bring people together,” Scott said.
END OF A CHAPTER— “Exiting Congress early, Ted Deutch assesses wins, losses — and increasingly toxic politics,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Anthony Man: “Proud of his accomplishments and disappointed by unfinished business, simultaneously optimistic and concerned, Congressman Ted Deutch is departing — on his own accord — from elected office. His last day came Friday, three months before the end of his term. ‘This job is not easy. We all know there is plenty of progress yet to be made, that seemingly more often [than] we find areas of common ground, we get caught up in bitter, often vitriolic partisanship. We fight, we demonize, we create barriers to some of the change our constituents rightfully demand,’ Deutch said in his final speech on the House floor. ‘The trail of stymied progress is infuriating.’”
RUBIO BLASTS MOVE— “American prisoners are released from Venezuela and Iran,” by The New York Times’ Michael D. Sheer and Farnaz Fassihi: “Seven Americans who had been held captive in Venezuela for years were on their way home Saturday after President Biden agreed to grant clemency to two nephews of Cilia Flores, Venezuela’s first lady, officials said. The men had been sentenced in 2017 to 18 years in prison for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.”
Response — “Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, lashed out at the administration on Twitter. ‘Today Biden released two convicted drug dealer nephews of #Venezuela dictator Maduro in exchange for 7 innocent Americans being held hostage,’ said Mr. Rubio, whose state is home to many Venezuelans who fled the socialist governments there. ‘Another Biden appeasement that will result in more anti-U.S. dictators taking more innocent Americans hostage in the future,’ Mr. Rubio wrote.”
TRANSITIONS — Erin Moffet, who has been deputy chief of staff for Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and oversaw both the communications and federal affairs offices, is joining The Liaison Group. Moffet will be director of strategic communications and policy adviser for the DC-based federal lobbying firm, which is dedicated to shaping the federal legislative and policy landscape for the cannabis industry. Moffet spent nine years in D.C. before she joined Fried’s office. Benjamin Kirby, who had worked as a communications and policy adviser on Fried’s gubernatorial campaign, will handle Fried’s press operations until the end of Fried’s term in early January.
SETTING THE STAGE — “Judge favors free speech arguments in Warren vs. DeSantis case,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Dan Sullivan: “The federal judge considering Andrew Warren’s challenge to his suspension by Gov. Ron DeSantis declined in a written order Thursday to immediately reinstate the ousted state attorney, but appeared to favor Warren’s arguments that his removal violated his free speech rights. The governor is not Warren’s boss, the judge opined, and has no right to tell him how to do his job. In a 29-page order filed Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle elaborated on thoughts he expressed amid arguments in the case two weeks ago, including his preference for Warren and DeSantis to hash out the case in a trial.”
DGA, PRITZKER HELP CRIST — With little over a month to go before the election, Charlie Crist is getting some financial help from donors outside of Florida. The Crist campaign announced that the Democratic nominee for governor is getting nearly $1 million in outside help, including $685,000 from the Democratic Governors Association and a $100,000 check from Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. Pritzker was the keynote speaker for the Florida Democrats Leadership Blue convention this past summer. “National donors are waking up to what’s at stake in Florida,” said Crist spokesperson Samantha Ramirez. “In the last few weeks alone, Americans have watched as Ron DeSantis spends taxpayer dollars to fly migrants across the country while Floridians are crumbling under the weight of a collapsing property insurance market following Hurricane Ian.” Yes, but…the DeSantis campaign continues to have a significant financial advantage. (See below).
BY THE NUMBERS — Secretary of State Cord Byrd on Friday suspended campaign finance deadline requirements. The order gave campaigns until Oct. 7 to file the weekly report that had been on Sept. 30. But Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign went and filed on time. DeSantis raised more than $2.62 million during the period from Sept. 17 to Sept. 23. The total includes money raised for campaign accounts and for political committees controlled by the candidates.
Following the money — The weekly total for DeSantis includes more than $188,000 in public matching money. All told DeSantis has now received more than $5.92 million in taxpayer money for his campaign. (That includes a more than $190,000 payment that was has not yet shown up on his campaign reports.) Crist has received more than $2.4 million in public matching money.
In the bank— DeSantis has more than $110.2 million unspent, according to state reports (which don’t reflect any future planned expenditures).
LIVES WITH PARENTS — “Opponent blasts GOP candidate Amnesty for living in home owned by religious nonprofit,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Steven Lemongello: “Democratic state House candidate Allie Braswell is criticizing his Republican opponent Carolina Amesty for living and registering to vote in a Windermere home owned by a nonprofit religious organization, Central Christian University, where Amesty is vice president. ‘How can you represent me if you’re not facing the same responsibilities that I have, paying taxes on the very home that you live in?’ Braswell said.”
— “Miami Mayor Frances Suarez was in NYC for fundraisers during Hurricane Ian,” by New York Post’s Bernadette Hogan and Emily Crane
— “Florida Senate GOP bashes Tallahassee paper, League of Women Voters over debate in full page ad,” by Florida Politics’ Gray Rohrer
— “Voting for November elections about to begin in South Florida,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Anthony Man
WHAT CHRIS KISE IS READING— “Trump’s legal team divided over how to handle Mar-a-Lago case,” by Washington Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Perry Stein: “After attorney Christopher Kise accepted $3 million to represent Donald Trump in the FBI’s investigation of government documents stored at Mar-a-Lago, the veteran litigator argued that Trump should adopt a new strategy. Turn down the temperature with the Department of Justice, Kise — a former Florida solicitor general — counseled his famously combative client, people familiar with the deliberations said.”
Back and forth — “Instead, just a few weeks after Kise was brought aboard, he finds himself in a battle, trying to persuade Trump to go along with his legal strategy and fighting with some other advisers who have counseled a more aggressive posture. The dispute has raged for at least a week, Trump advisers say, with the former president listening as various lawyers make their best arguments.
‘COULD RESULT IN PROLONGED LITIGATION’ — Feds seeks to fast-track appeal in Trump Mar-a-Lago documents fight, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein: The Justice Department moved to quickly dismantle the independent review of documents seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, contending that the review — ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon — is impeding its criminal investigation. In a 15-page filing asking a federal appeals court to speed its consideration of the issue, prosecutors complained the “special master” review prevents DOJ from accessing thousands of non-classified records recovered from the former president’s estate.
CUSTODY BATTLE— “Records from Trump White House still missing, National Archives says,” by The New York Times’ Luke Broadwater: “The National Archives informed Congress on Friday that members of the Trump White House still had not turned over all presidential records and signaled there could be legal consequences for those who do not comply. In a letter sent to the House Oversight Committee, Debra Steidel Wall, the acting U.S. archivist, said the archives was working to retrieve electronic messages from certain unnamed White House officials who had used personal email and messaging accounts to conduct official business.”
IDENTIFYING ‘PERLA’— “The story behind DeSantis’s migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard,” by The New York Times’ Edgar Sandoval, Miriam Jordan, Patricia Mazzei and J. David Goodman: “Until now, little has been known about the woman whom migrants said identified herself only by her first name, ‘Perla,’ when she solicited them to join the flights. A person briefed on the San Antonio Sheriff’s office investigation into the matter told The New York Times that the person being looked at in connection with the operation is a woman named Perla Huerta. Ms. Huerta, a former combat medic and counterintelligence agent, was discharged last month after two decades in the U.S. Army that included several deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to military records.”
— “An island of acceptance in an ever-redder Texas: How San Antonio, a gateway for migrants, became a hunting ground for DeSantis,” by The Boston Globe’s Samantha J. Gross
— “‘Get off our lungs!’: 60 rally against sugar-cane burning in Glades,” by Palm Beach Post’s Chris Persaud
BIRTHDAYS: State Sen. Travis Hutson … Ursula Perano with The Daily Beast … Donna Blanton with the Radey law firm.