CABINET TO DISCUSS LAW FIRMS FOR SUNSHINE SUIT
At least three law firms are vying for a contract to represent Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet in a case that alleges violations of the Sunshine Law in the ouster of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey. Scott and the Cabinet are expected to meet by telephone at 8 a.m. Tuesday to discuss hiring outside counsel to represent them. As of mid-afternoon Monday, the firms Oertel, Fernandez, Bryant & Atkinson, P.A., Shutts & Bowen LLP, and Foley & Lardner LLP had submitted proposals for the contract, according to information on the Cabinet website. Law firms faced a deadline later Monday afternoon for submitting proposals. The lawsuit, filed in February by media organizations and open-government advocates, contends that Scott and Cabinet members violated the Sunshine Law by using staff members as “conduits” to exchange information about the forced resignation of Bailey. Scott’s office has denied that discussions about Bailey violated state law.
REHEARING DENIED IN BLIND TRUST CASE
An appeals court has rejected a request for a rehearing in a case challenging a 2013 state law that allows public officials to put their assets into blind trusts, according to an online court docket. The 1st District Court of Appeal in February rejected a challenge filed by Jim Apthorp, who served as chief of staff to former Gov. Reubin Askew. Apthorp contends that allowing public officials to place assets in blind trusts violates a constitutional requirement that officials fully disclose their financial interests. Apthorp’s attorney asked early this month for a rehearing, but the request was denied Friday, according to the docket. Gov. Rick Scott used a blind trust during his first term in office but ended it last year and listed his financial assets as he qualified for re-election. That disclosure showed Scott’s net worth at $132.7 million. After the disclosure, Scott put his assets in a new blind trust. In the February ruling, a three-judge panel found that Apthorp’s case “wholly failed to allege a bona fide, actual, present practical need for a declaration that the qualified blind trust statute is unconstitutional.” In part, it said Apthorp did not allege any public official or candidate had used a blind trust in the most-recent financial disclosures.
QPOLL TO DETAIL FLORIDA PRESIDENTIAL RACE
With former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio eyeing the White House next year, Quinnipiac University will release poll numbers Tuesday about the presidential race in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Quinnipiac, which frequently conducts polls in Florida and other states, released a survey in early February that showed Bush and likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in a virtual tie in Florida. The poll showed Clinton with a comfortable lead against Rubio. Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania will be crucial swing states during the 2016 election. The race could draw even more attention in Florida if Bush or Rubio becomes the Republican nominee.