Rubio wants top general fired after book revelationsSeptember 15, 2021
Hello and welcome to Wednesday.
Leaning in — Sen. Marco Rubio reacted quickly to the bombshell report that Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made secret phone calls to a Chinese military leader to reassure him the U.S. would not attack despite concerns that then-President Donald Trump might take action.
You’re fired — The revelations came from a new book written by Bob Woodward and Washington Post national political reporter Bob Costa. The story came out on Tuesday afternoon and by nightfall Rubio had written a letter calling on President Joe Biden to fire Milley immediately.
From the letter — Rubio wrote that Milley “has attempted to rationalize his reckless behavior by arguing that what he perceived as the military’s judgement was more stable than its civilian commander. It is a dangerous precedent that could be asserted at any point in the future by General Milley or others.”
But hold on — Now, after having written the letter, Rubio then went on Fox News to say that he hoped the book “wasn’t true” and that Milley would put out a statement on Wednesday saying that “this is an absolute lie.” (For his part, Trump reacted by calling it “Fake News concocted by a weak and ineffective General together with two authors.”
The right messenger? — For those on the left, Rubio — who could still be a 2024 contender — jumping into the fray on this was seen as nothing more than an effort to stay on Trump’s good side as he heads into re-election. But Rubio said on Hannity that “You don’t have to like Donald Trump to be concerned about this.” Rubio said it “is the essence of a military coup,” and wondered how people would react if a general decided to ignore Biden’s orders because they thought he was senile.
— WHERE'S RON? — Gov. DeSantis is scheduled to hold a press conference at the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.
Have a tip, story, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]
END OF AN ERA? — “DeSantis pushes to scale back standardized testing in Florida’s schools," by POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury: Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signaled his intentions to overhaul standardized testing in Florida, a major policy decision the Republican governor said ultimately would cut down the time students and teachers spend on state exams by 75 percent. In pushing to eliminate the Florida Standards Assessments after this year, DeSantis generated praise from some of his biggest critics at a time when he has been repeatedly attacked over his response to Covid-19 in schools. At the same time, DeSantis unveiled what will be a major focus for the state Legislature during the 2022 session — gutting the FSA, the state’s foundation for testing and tracking students and schools since 2014-15.
Yeah, but — DeSantis' move was quickly endorsed by school superintendents such as Miami-Dade's Alberto Carvalho and even the Florida Education Association — the state's teacher union — and Democrats. For years, Democrats have decried Florida's high-stakes testing that were first put in place by ...drum roll please... former Gov. Jeb Bush. Bush and his foundation have continued to wield tremendous influence in the state Legislature over education policy in the two decades since Bush's A+ plan tied student performance on tests to school grades.
Bush v. DeSantis? — So it is worth noting here that Bush's organization — Foundation for Florida's Future — did not really endorse this idea, suggesting it wasn't run by them ahead of time. Executive director Patricia Levesque put out a statement saying that putting in a different type of student measurement could work, but at no point did the group say it backed the idea of eliminating testing completely as DeSantis has suggested. Instead Levesque's statement raised questions about how this would all work. And there are a lot of questions including how Florida would comply with federal testing requirements. Could make for a very interesting 2022 session.
FORGET ABOUT THAT PESKY LAW — “Florida Cabinet won’t consider DEP pick," by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: The Florida Cabinet will not consider the appointment of the state’s next top environmental regulator at its next meeting, a move likely to stoke further tensions between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. DeSantis last month appointed Shawn Hamilton to serve as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection without getting a vote of the three-member Florida Cabinet that oversees that post. Fried, a member of the Cabinet and a Democrat running for governor, said that decision is illegal and has vocally been fighting DeSantis on the issue since June, when former DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein announced he was resigning.
ROUND 2 — “Chris Sprowls renews push for data privacy as opposition mounts from insurers, business groups,” by Florida Politics’ Christine Sexton: “Florida lawmakers appear poised to wage another bruising battle over data privacy in 2022, as House Speaker Chris Sprowls vows to push through a measure that would put pressure on tech companies when it comes to sharing valuable information they collect on customers.”
— “Shamarial Roberson, Florida Deputy Secretary of Health, to step down,” by USA Today Network-Florida’s Jim Rosica
The daily rundown — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that there were 11,300 Covid-19 infections on Monday. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 10,979 beds were being used in the state for Covid-19 patients. The Florida Hospital Association reported Tuesday that 41.4 percent of adult patients in intensive care units are infected with Covid-19.
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Biden’s team tightens grip on state use of Covid antibody treatments,” by POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn: The approach is likely to cut into shipments to GOP-led states in the Southeast that have made the pricey antibody drug a central part of their pandemic strategy, while simultaneously spurning mask mandates and other restrictions. That threatens to heighten tensions between the Biden administration and governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who have emerged as vocal opponents of the federal Covid-19 response.
THE NEW NORMAL — “As quarantines mount, students, teachers struggle to keep up,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Jeffrey S. Solochek: “Boca Ciega High senior Matthew McCrary has a message for Pinellas County school district leaders: All the quarantines taking place are wreaking havoc on learning. ‘It is very difficult,’ McCrary said, offering the example of him sitting in the school auditorium four of seven periods one recent day because so many teachers were out. ‘We don’t get assignments and we’re falling behind.’”
RELEASED — “How many people are dying of COVID in your Florida county? New White House data releases details,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Kate Santich and Caroline Catherman and Sun Sentinel’s Cindy Krischer Goodman: “On Aug. 30, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, and the Florida Center for Government Accountability filed a lawsuit against the [Florida Department of Health] for not providing detailed, daily COVID-19 statistics. Smith reacted Tuesday to the newly released data on Twitter. ‘Well, well, well. After withholding detailed COVID death data for months, #DeSantis suddenly releases the info after WE SUED THEM. Coincidence? Why not release all remaining data + resume daily dashboard reporting before Monday’s pre-trial hearing?’ he wrote. However, it’s not yet clear why the information was released nor whether it will continue to be made public each week.”
— “Pinellas School Board again turns away request to meet on mask rule,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Marlene Sokol
— “‘This is really horrible’: Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber slammed Gov. Ron DeSantis over ban on cities, counties requiring employee COVID vaccinations," by CBS Miami
CLEARING THE FIELD? — “Trump endorses Anna Paulina Luna in GOP primary for Pinellas House seat," by Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Contorno: “Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday endorsed Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican primary for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, calling her a ‘great fighter’ who ‘puts America first.’ ‘This is an important race because it is ‘key’ to taking back the House,’ Trump said in a message sent through his political action committee, the Save America PAC.”
TESTIFY — “Florida congressional candidate says rival threatened life,” by The Associated Press’ Curt Anderson: “A former political rival of a Republican Florida congressional candidate made repeated violent threats to “take her out,” even claiming he could summon a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad to kill her, according to trial testimony Tuesday. The civil trial concerns whether a temporary restraining order granted to candidate Anna Paulina Luna should be made permanent, which would prevent 2020 GOP primary rival William Braddock from having contact with her. A friend of Luna’s, Erin Olszewski, also sought a permanent restraining order against Braddock.”
UM, OK — “Despite the optics, FDP Chair Manny Diaz is bullish on party’s prospects in 2022," by Spectrum News’ Mitch Perry: “On the surface, the enthusiasm for Democrats seems strangely muted going into next year’s election cycle: While Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried are engaged in a battle for the chance to oppose GOP incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis in his bid for reelection next year, no major Democrat has filed to run for any of the three major cabinet positions to date, but Diaz is confident that will change soon. ‘I’ve talked to a number of them. Very good candidates. They’re all thinking about it. And I think we’ll start to see some announcements pretty soon,’ Diaz told Spectrum Bay News 9 on Monday.”
WHAT’S GOING ON? — “Legislators remain silent about repairing Florida’s tarnished redistricting process,” by Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas: “When Florida legislators launch the once-a-decade redrawing of state legislative and congressional district boundaries next week, they will face new obstacles that include a compressed schedule because of a delay in the census process and restoring public trust after a court’s conclusion that the last process was secretly and illegally 'hijacked' by Republican political operatives 10 years ago. But despite the hurdles, Florida GOP leaders have held no public hearings, will give no media interviews, and have not responded to requests from voters’ groups that they conduct a transparent process devoid of influence from secretive political operators.”
OPENING FOR DEMS? — “Venezuelan Americans pressure GOP to back permanent residency,” by NBC News’ Carmen Sesin: “A poll of Venezuelan Americans in Florida, a group with growing political influence that helped former President Donald Trump carry the state, shows there is potential for them to warm up to Democrats in the future. Almost half of all Venezuelans polled (49 percent) said they would no longer support the state's two U.S. senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both Republicans, if they oppose granting permanent legal status to Venezuelan Americans who currently have temporary protected status, or TPS.”
— “Janelle Perez drops U.S. House race, resets sights on flipping SD 37 blue,” by Florida Politics’ Jesse Scheckner
MIAMI HEAT — “Miami commission calls meeting to grill police chief after string of controversies,” by Miami Herald’s Charles Rabin: “Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo, a surprising and prized hire by the mayor, is already on the hot seat only five months into the job. Miami commissioners — angered over a series of controversial decisions and gaffes by the new chief — have called for a special meeting in two weeks to grill Acevedo and potentially decide his future. Last week, in the most recent controversy, the chief drew a rebuke from commissioners for telling a group of officers that department was run by the ‘Cuban Mafia.'"
PAYOUT — “PBC School District begins to pay out $50M to charters once denied a share of tax windfall,” by Palm Beach Post’s Sonja Isger: “With its legal recourse all but eliminated in court rulings this month, the Palm Beach County School District will begin paying out millions of dollars it previously denied the county's roughly 50 charter schools — money intended to improve teacher pay and cover the growing costs of school security. The sum, about $50 million over the next two budget years, is the charter schools' share of the proceeds generated by a 2018 voter-approved property tax hike that currently is bringing the district about $250 million annually.”
NO GO — “Surfside leaders reject land swap proposal to build memorial on Champlain Towers site,” by Miami Herald’s Martin Vassolo: “The Surfside commission on Tuesday rejected a proposal to build a memorial to the victims of the Surfside condo collapse by trading public land to the eventual buyer of the property where the Champlain Towers South fell. Family members of those who died in the collapse and Surfside residents opposed to the plan packed the town’s commission chambers during an emotional and sometimes contentious meeting.”
— “‘Her story was just getting started.’ Globe-trotting daughter died with Cuban father in Surfside,” by El Nuevo Herald’s Syra Ortiz-Blanes
— “Jurors dismissed after Broward Clerk’s ‘Do the crime, do the time’ comment,” by Sun Sentinel’s Rafael Olmeda: “Broward Clerk of Courts Brenda Forman welcomed a panel of Broward jurors to the courthouse Monday by asking for help clearing criminal cases from the dockets, punctuating her remarks by quipping that those who do the crime have to do the time. And while Forman’s office says the comments are being taken ‘out of context,’ defense lawyers say they may poison the jury pool and encourage guilty verdicts.”
Want to make an impact? POLITICO Florida has a variety of solutions available for partners looking to reach and activate the most influential people in the Sunshine State. Have a petition you want signed? A cause you’re promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness amongst this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Jesse Shapiro to find out how: [email protected]