A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
***Sunburn is sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms.***BOO … IT’S TAX DAY!AS TODAY’S TAX DEADLINE APPROACHES, CHANCES OF GETTING AUDITED BY THE IRS LOWEST IN YEARS Full blog post hereAs millions of Americans race to meet today’s tax deadline, their chances of getting audited are lower than they have been in years.Budget cuts and new responsibilities are straining the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to police tax returns. This year, the IRS will have fewer agents auditing returns than at any time since at least the 1980s.Better technology is helping to offset some budget cuts.If you report making $40,000 in wages and your employer tells the IRS you made $50,000, the agency’s computers probably will catch that. The same is true for investment income and many common deductions that are reported to the IRS by financial institutions.But if you operate a business that deals in cash, with income or expenses that are not independently reported to the IRS, your chances of getting caught are lower than they have been in years.Last year, the IRS audited less than 1 percent of all returns from individuals, the lowest rate since 2005.The IRS also is implementing large parts of President Barack Obama’s health law, including enforcing the mandate that most people get health insurance. Republicans in Congress abhor the law, putting another bull’s-eye on the agency’s back.HOW TO GET MORE TIME TO FILE YOUR TAXES Full blog post hereAmerica’s annual tax reckoning is here once again and for many who have yet to file their federal tax return, which means a mad dash to beat Uncle Sam’s deadline.If it looks like you’re not going to make the deadline, and you owe unpaid taxes, it pays to ask for more time. That’s because if you miss the deadline and fail to ask for an extension, the IRS will hit you with a monthly penalty of 5 percent of your unpaid tax balance. The quickest way to request an extension is to fill out the automatic extension of time to file – Form 4868 on www.irs.gov . It’s also available through most tax preparation software.Extension requests via mail must be postmarked by Tuesday to be considered on time. Forms filed on the IRS website or by using tax software can be sent in as late as 11:59 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.Getting more time to file your return doesn’t mean you have more time to pay your 2013 tax bill, however.If you file your tax return on time or get an extension, but fail to pay, the IRS will charge a monthly late payment penalty of 0.5 percent of your unpaid taxes. That translates to a $25 penalty if you owe $5,000. It is charged each month or part of a month the tax goes unpaid, up to 25 percent, or $1,250 on that $5,000.In addition, the IRS will assess an annual 3 percent interest rate, compounded daily, on what you owe.You can avoid the 0.5 percent late-payment penalty if you pay either 90 percent of your 2013 tax balance by April 15, or if you pay an amount equal to the full amount you paid on your 2012 tax return. For example, if you estimate that you owe $9,000 in taxes for 2013 and you pay 90 percent of that, or $8,100, you won’t be charged the penalty. Paying what you paid in taxes last year also would spare you the penalty.THE GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN TO KEEP TAXES TERRIBLE IS NOT GRASSROOTS AT ALL via Ben Collins of EsquirePlaces like Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Spain, Chile, Iceland and Norway all have taxes that are filed to you. Your employer and bank sends a statement to the revenue service, and if everything looks right, you sign your name and send it back.Your taxes are then filed. That is the end of it.Why isn’t it like this (in America)? Because Intuit, the people who make Turbotax, have spent about $8 million in the last three years lobbying Congress to keep taxes complicated.That is the only reason your taxes are still complicated.Now there is a “grassroots” campaign in the op-ed sections of newspapers nationwide with one message: Let’s keep in place the time-honored tradition of doing our own taxes.But there are two problems with this: One,Americans would still be able to file their own return if they felt the IRS didn’t take into account a move, a baby, or any other omission. And more importantly, Two, All of these op-eds are being written by a lobbying firm, paid for by TurboTax. All of them. And a lot of them are identical.So if you hear of a pro-tax filing argument in your local newspaper, just know that this person either loves paperwork or is paid for by the TurboTax people.ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Main Street Growth & Opportunity Coalition – Florida (MSGOCF) – will hold a conference call media briefing at 9 a.m. to address the need for federal tax reform and a simplification of the tax code. Attending are Members of the MSGOCF, including Julio Fuentes, President, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Rep. Holly Raschein. (Call-in # is 1-866-848-2216/Passcode: 2704235408)***RSA Consulting Group is in the business of building Relationships, developing Solutions and Achieving results. With RSA clients receive the personal attention and commitment they deserve. RSA is a full service consulting firm with expertise in areas of government & community affairs, strategic planning, fundraising & event planning, as well as media & public relations. To learn more visit www.rsaconsultingllc.com.***CBO: OBAMACARE TO COST LESS THAN EXPECTEDObamacare benefits will cost about $104 billion less than originally thought over the next 10 years, down to about $1.4 trillion between 2015 and 2024, according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office.OBAMA EFFECT INSPIRING FEW TO SEEK OFFICE via Jason Horowitz of the New York TimesEric Lesser was shaking hands with diners in a Portuguese restaurant last week when he spotted the owner of Manny’s TV & Appliances. “Oh, I’ve got to get a picture,” Mr. Lesser eagerly said, draping his arm over Manny Rovithis, whose low-budget commercials have run for decades in Western Massachusetts. Mr. Lesser’s giddiness about meeting the local celebrity had not faded when he sat down for lunch.Although Lesser spent much of the last six years in the company of President Obama and Washington hotshots, now, as an earnest, hug-prone 29-year-old candidate for the Massachusetts State Senate, he is far more interested in people like Mr. Rovithis. Which is a good thing. Mr. Lesser, a former White House staff member, has returned home on the path Mr. Obama hoped to inspire many of his young supporters to follow when he said, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”But if Lesser, who is on leave from Harvard Law School to run for office, is the face of the promised Obama political generation, he is also one of its few participants. For all the talk about the movement that elected Mr. Obama, the more notable movement of Obama supporters has been away from politics. It appears that few of the young people who voted for him, and even fewer Obama campaign and administration operatives, have decided to run for office. Far more have joined the high-paid consultant ranks.Unlike John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, who inspired virtual legislatures of politicians and became generational touchstones, Obama has so far had little such influence. That is all the more remarkable considering he came to office tapping into spirit of volunteerism and community service that pollsters say is widespread and intense among young people. Mr. Obama has come to represent that spirit, but he has failed, pollsters say, to transform it into meaningful engagement in the political process.***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget, and your industry. Unlike some other providers, we own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks.***DESPITE MORE DEMOCRATS IN VOLUSIA, GOP CONGRESSMAN RON DESANTIS APPEARS UNBEATABLE via Chris Graham of the Daytona Beach News-JournalVoters in Florida’s District 6, which includes most of Volusia and all of Flagler County, will have the chance in November to reach a judgment on freshman Congressman Ron DeSantis, a Republican and one of the most conservative members in Congress.But it’s not much of a chance, in the view of political pundits who study such things, especially for a pair of mostly moderate counties that helped put Obama in the White House in 2008. For all the Democrats in Volusia and Flagler — they outnumber Republicans in the two counties — DeSantis is sitting pretty for his first re-election bid, thanks to a cleverly drawn district that includes the conservative hotbed of southern St. Johns County.Even as DeSantis attends fundraisers to boost his vast campaign war chest, his office declined several requests for an interview with The News-Journal about the upcoming race — a signal, some say, that DeSantis and Republicans don’t see a credible threat on the horizon.The only other candidate, Democrat David Cox, a Bethune-Cookman University administrator, will try to make the case that DeSantis is out of touch with the region he represents with his conservative voting record and support from the likes of David and Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialists who have poured millions into conservative political groups.With qualifying for federal candidates starting April 28, Cox, who’s yet to garner support from the state Democratic Party, faces an uphill battle. He’d raised less than $10,000 through the end of 2013; DeSantis had $630,000.JOE GARCIA RAISES $460K IN 1Q OF 2014 Full blog post hereDemocratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia campaign announced significant fundraising numbers on Monday, raising $460,000 in the first quarter of 2014.This gives the Miami Beach Democrat $2.2 million in contributions so far in his re-election effort. Cash on hand numbers are still pending.According to a statement released by his campaign, nearly 70 percent of Garcia’s 1Q donations originated in Florida, with 9 out of 10 coming from individuals and 40 percent less than $100.MANUEL SYKES CONSIDERS RUNNING IN CD 13 via Curtis Krueger of the Tampa Bay TimesThe Rev. Manuel Sykes, of St. Petersburg’s Bethel Community Baptist Church, said he’s considering running for Congress in Pinellas County’s District 13.Sykes, a Democrat and president of the St. Petersburg NAACP, said many people have urged him to run in the district, which extends from south Pinellas to Dunedin, with portions of southern and downtown St. Petersburg cut out. But the Democratic picture is unclear. Sink has said she also is considering running again for the seat in the fall, and top Democratic Party officials have urged her to do so.Sykes said he’s listening to supporters and giving the idea serious thought, but he also said “my biggest interest is in not splitting the party. It’s too important to jump in out of ambition.”Sykes said that because of redistricting, he is no longer a resident of District 13. He said he would move into the district if he decides to run.RAND PAUL ENDORSES CURT CLAWSON IN CD 19 SPECIAL ELECTION via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of The Political FixIn a statement Monday, Paul said Clawson would bring fresh ideas to Washington.“Washington is desperate for outside leadership. Curt Clawson is an outsider who will bring refreshing ideas to the halls of Congress,” he said in a statement. “Today, I proudly stand with Curt Clawson in his quest to restore fiscal stability and common sense government. Curt Will stand with me defending the Constitution.”He continued: “I urge the voters of Florida’s 19th congressional district to send Curt to Washington. Our nation needs new leadership and the first step in the right direction would be electing Curt Clawson.”CLAWSON’S LATEST TV AD LOOKS A LOT LIKE A SPOT FOR REP. WATERS CIRCA 2004 Full blog post hereThe Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo tweeted that Clawson’s latest television ad “might be the cleverest” in the special election in Florida’s 19th Congressional District.I couldn’t agree more.That’s because Jack Hebert and I pretty much produced the same ad for state Representative Leslie Waters in 2002 and 2004 (for the record, I only worked on the 2002 spot).Clawson’s ad is different enough from Waters’ spot that it’s not a direct rip-off, but the two spots are more alike than they are different.Both Clawson and Waters were running in tough campaigns in which thousands of dollars of negative TV spots were airing. Both spots are set at the beach (Waters’ spot was filmed at Fort De Soto beach, in fact). Both capture the waves rolling in. Both ads allow the sound of the water crashing, rather than voice-over, to dominate the spot. Both ads even complain about all of the “negative political ads.”There are, um, differences: Where Waters’ ad called for a “refreshing break,” Clawson’s offers “a few moments of peace.”There’s no disputing the cleverness of Clawson’s ad. Hopefully Clawson’s campaign consultants can win an Addy award for their work, like The Mallard Group did for its efforts.***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at www.capcityconsult.com.***DEMOCRATS NEED TO PROD FOLLOWERS TO CHALLENGE SCOTT IN OFF-ELECTION YEAR via William March of the Tampa TribuneIf they hope to unseat Gov. Scott in November and regain a foothold in state government, Florida Democrats will have to overcome a handicap that has plagued them for years — “voter drop-off” in nonpresidential elections.Florida traditionally sees declines in voter turnout of up to 20 percentage points in nonpresidential years compared to presidential years.The decline favors Republicans, experts say, because it’s greatest among the most reliably Democratic voting groups — minorities, young voters and unmarried women. Those individuals are less likely to go to the polls when there isn’t a high-profile presidential race.The effects were clearly visible in the March special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young in Pinellas County, an election with even less voter-drawing power than a normal off-year election.In that March 11 vote, Democrat Alex Sink narrowly lost to Republican David Jolly, even though the Pinellas County congressional district has been trending Democratic in recent years. The district voted for President Barack Obama in both the last two presidential election years.But a new analysis of voting patterns by a liberal research group that studies voting, Washington, D.C.-based Voter Participation Center, includes a sobering estimate for Florida Democrats.In 2014, blacks, Hispanics, unmarried women and voters under 30 will send 1.5 million fewer voters to Florida polls than in 2012, said the study, done for the organization by the Democratic-oriented polling and research firm Lake Research Partners.By contrast, the study estimates the drop-off among all others at 618,000 votes.MEDICAL POT MEASURE COULD BOOST FLA. DEMOCRATS via Michael Mishak of the Associated PressTied to an unpopular president and his signature health care law, Democrats in the nation’s largest swing state see medical marijuana as a potential antidote to political malaise in this year’s midterm elections.Party operatives are pushing a constitutional amendment that would make Florida the first state in the South to legalize some pot use. Polls show the measure has widespread public support, and it’s particularly popular among young voters — a critical part of the Democratic coalition with historically weak turnout in non-presidential election years.Florida Republicans argue that Democrats do not have a clear-cut advantage on medical pot, with public polls showing an overwhelming majority of GOP voters supporting it. They also say it’s unlikely to excite young voters in the way that legalization campaigns did in Colorado and Washington, where pot was sanctioned for recreational use along the lines of alcohol, or become part of a divisive culture war that could drive turnout.Nevertheless, the marijuana initiative may be one bright spot for Democrats in an election year that could be grim for the party.A Republican victory in a special House election last month in Florida underscored the Democrats’ turnout problem. The St. Petersburg-area district has 2.4 percent more registered Republicans than Democrats, but GOP voters outnumbered Democrats by 8 percentage points among those who cast ballots.IT’S BILL CLINTON, NOT OBAMA, WHO’LL BE DEMOCRATS’ MAIN MAN IN FLORIDA via Jeff Henderson of the Sunshine State NewsLast week reports came out that Bill Clinton will be coming to South Florida in early May to help the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) raise money. Whoever wins the Democratic primary, most likely Charlie Crist, should be able to count on Clinton’s help against Gov. Scott.Obama remains popular with his Democratic base, something Republicans didn’t quite fully realize in 2012. Obama will continue to hit the fundraising circuit for Democrats in Florida and across the nation. But Clinton is much more popular with independents and even moderate Republicans — something that could help Murphy and other Democrats in Florida. Despite Obama beating Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries, the former president proved an excellent asset for the Democratic ticket in 2012, giving a well-regarded speech at the convention and hitting the campaign trail.Clinton scores points with Americans on a host of fronts. His eight years in office are still seen as the high watermark of the American economy. While there were some conflicts and military actions during his time in office — Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia — essentially the Clinton years were peaceful. Despite his personal failings and the impeachment effort that haunted his last years in office, Clinton towers over George W. Bush and Obama in many Americans’ minds.As Obama continues to sink in the polls, look for Clinton to be front and center for Democrats. In 2014, and if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee in 2016, Obama will be overshadowed by the former president. Just like he’ll be in Florida this year and just like he’ll be in the history books.CRIST DELIVERS BLISTERING ATTACK OF SCOTT via Matt Sedensky of the Associated PressDelivering an opening salvo in his campaign to return to office, Crist heaped blistering criticism Monday on his successor, a preview of the attack Gov. Rick Scott faces from his likely opponent.Addressing a crowd of hundreds at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, Crist gave a relentless indictment of nearly every aspect of Scott’s leadership, portraying him as an opponent to education and the environment and a man out of touch with average Floridians.“Gov. Scott has led like this: embrace the ideological fringe, take care of his friends, bully his opponents, hide from the public and the press and run from tough issues,” Crist said. “He keeps running because the truth means little to Rick Scott because he doesn’t have a record to run on, because he knows Floridians don’t support him and that his priorities are wrong.”Scott sent Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera to rebut Crist, who was long a Republican but now is a Democrat. Crist gave a glimpse of his sometimes disarming friendliness, rising from his seat to applaud Lopez-Cantera when he was introduced, praising him in his speech, then interrupting reporters’ interviews with the lieutenant governor to greet him with a handshake and a wide smile.The former governor’s arrival before a gaggle of reporters came as Lopez-Cantera was in the midst of denouncing Crist’s speech as filled with mistruths and him as a politician who would stake out any position necessary to get elected. Crist declined to respond to a question about Lopez-Cantera’s comments about his speech’s honesty.“He’s just gonna get to debate the lieutenant governor candidate,” Crist said. “Give me Scott.”Lopez-Cantera said: “I feel like I’m watching a bad political movie. Charlie has become the unpleasant stereotype of a politician willing to say anything and do anything to further ambitions.”MUST-SEE VIDEO: Crist’s confronts LG CLC after his speech. Watch here.WCTV: WE TAKE F’FULL RESPONSIBILITY,’ APOLOGIZE FOR AD ERROR THAT LED TO RPOF COMPLAINT via Marc Caputo of the Miami HeraldA Tallahassee CBS affiliate issued a public apology to Crist and his employer, Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, for mistakenly running an ad that led to a Republican Party complaint because the spot violated campaign rules.“WCTV wants to apologize to both Mr. Morgan and Mr. Crist for inadvertently airing a commercial that we were not instructed to air,” the station said in an unsigned letter issued by General Manager Heather Peeples.“The station receives many commercials from Morgan & Morgan and accidently typed in the wrong commercial code, causing the error,” the letter said. “WCTV accepts full responsibility for this human error. Per the request of Morgan & Morgan, all commercials have been removed from WCTV’s air until further notice.”Barring any further evidence, then, it appears the RPOF complaint is moot.TWEET, TWEET: @fasanomike: Does anyone in Tallahassee truly believe the little guy and gal care about these laughable complaints being filed? Time to grow up.***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Political Accounting Group, LLC. We are a full service firm that will work with you to handle all of your reporting requirements along with your treasurer functions. So to help you see how easy and low cost it is to have a professional on your side, we are offering an introductory $99 reporting fee for your first month. That is much less than the value of your time and it could also be less than the fines you will pay for not filing on time or accurately. Visit www.pagworks.com for more information.*** ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will visit and speak with Department of Children and Families Child Protective Investigators in Miami about his proposed additional funding to protect children, according to a release. 100 Opa-Locka Blvd. Opa-Locka. 2:30 p.m. FIRST AMENDMENT FOUNDATION URGES SCOTT VETO OF WARNING SHOT BILL via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach PostA measure that would allow Floridians to fire a warning shot in self-defense should be vetoed by Gov. Scott because it also closes key criminal records from public oversight, the First Amendment Foundation said Monday.The foundation, which is financed by Florida news organizations, wrote Scott urging that he veto the legislation (CS/HB 89) he is expected to act on this week.The bill would give those who threaten to use a firearm in self-defense or fire a warning shot instead of fleeing a dangerous situation the same legal safeguards that the state’s “stand your ground” law gives to people who use deadly force to defend themselves.The 2005 stand your ground provision is opposed by minority groups which claim it has been used to justify violence against black youth.The press organization, however, addresses the provision that allows people cleared by judges because they acted in self-defense to petition courts to have their records expunged.Barbara Petersen, foundation president, told Scott that could “serve as a tool for obscuring law enforcement and prosecutorial misconduct, while also hindering the development of court precedence essential to understanding how and when the proposed use of force applies.”GOV. SCOTT’S DRUG TESTS AT ISSUE IN U.S. SUPREME COURT via Jim Saunders of the News Service of FloridaMore than three years after Gov. Scott issued an executive order seeking across-the-board drug testing for state employees, the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to decide whether to weigh in on the controversial policy.The court expects to discuss privately whether to hear an appeal filed by Scott after a lower court found that the drug-testing plan was too broad, according to an online Supreme Court docket. Behind the scenes, justices sift through thousands of cases a year but decide to hear arguments in only about 100.The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, with legal representation from the American Civil Liberties Union, challenged Scott’s drug-testing policy, contending that it violates the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that drug tests could not be justified constitutionally for many of the 85,000 workers who would be subject to Scott’s policy and sent the case back to a district court to determine which workers could be tested. That prompted Scott to file a petition in January asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appeals-court decision.***SUNBURN is sponsored in part by Floridian Partners, LLC, a statewide Public and Government Affairs firm with offices in Tallahassee, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Ther firm’s success is measured by its clients’ success. Outreach and Public Advocacy; Strategic Issue and Campaign Development; Grassroots and Grasstops Coalition Building – Floridian Partners is a one-stop firm for clients needing assistance at all levels of government in Florida.***DEMOCRATS TRY TO RAISE FLORIDA’S MINIMUM WAGE, BUT THE CONVERSATION GOES NOWHERE via Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald They held protests and press conferences. Several even spent the week living on $7.93 an hour.But try as they might, Democratic lawmakers could not spark a discussion about increasing the state minimum wage.The GOP had its reasons for not engaging on the issue, some members said, including a belief that increasing the minimum wage would slow job growth.Speaker Will Weatherford, said he was not surprised to see Democrats turn to the media.“This is the magical time in session when people who cannot pass their bills resort to political stunts,” Weatherford said. “It’s a sad but unfortunately predictable pastime for the last three weeks of session.”HOUSE QUESTIONS TAX CUT FOR DAYTONA RACEWAY via Jim Turner of the News Service of FloridaState funding for Daytona International Speedway and a temporary tax break on gym memberships could be casualties when the House and Senate meet next week on their opposing packages to complete Gov. Rick Scott’s election-year tax cuts.House budget leaders have expressed surprise that the raceway funding was included last week in the tax-cut package. But senators, advancing a number of proposals to help the ongoing speedway improvements, consider the issue an economic development driver.Overall, the two chambers have taken different approaches to filling in the remaining $100 million in tax breaks to accompany a $400 million a year repeal of a 2009 rate hike on motor vehicle registration fees. Scott has already signed the registration fee reduction (SB 156) into law.The House wants a wide array of tax breaks, from sales-tax holidays on back-to-school items, energy-saving appliances, hurricane supplies and gym memberships, along with the elimination of the sales-taxes on the purchase of child car seats and bicycle helmets for kids, a temporary lifting of sales taxes on the purchase of cement mixers, a loan program for television production in the state, and a lessening of the sales taxes businesses pay for electricity.The Senate has countered with a package that keeps the back-to-school holiday while reducing a tax on cable and phone services, lessening an insurance tax p