Governor DeSantis Suggest Appointing DEP Secretary Without Florida Cabinet Approval

Florida State Capitol

During a Florida Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis insinuated the possibility of appointing a new secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) without the Cabinet’s approval.

Controversy regarding the appointment comes after Former DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, who had held the position for four years and was approved by the Cabinet in 2017 and 2019, officially resigned on June 4th.

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Discrepancy Found Between Nikki Fried’s English and Spanish Websites

A discrepancy between Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s English and Spanish websites has been recently criticized as a deliberate attempt to withhold progressive ideas from Hispanic and Latino voters.

Newsweek noticed the discrepancy and quickly questioned Fried’s campaign team who, without responding, changed the Spanish website to match the English website.

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DeSantis, Fried Spar over Defunding Police Issue

On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried had a war of words related to governance issues related to the defunding police issue.

Fried, who is running as a Democratic candidate to unseat DeSantis in the 2022 gubernatorial election, said DeSantis was bullying local municipalities under the rule of Republican control in Tallahassee.

“Now, the so-called party of small government is yet again telling government closest to the people what they can and cannot do with their money,” she said. “So, as you vote today, ask yourself, who is really the big government bureaucrat in the faraway Capitol?”

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DeSantis Reports $7.5 Million in May Contributions, Continues to Significantly Outpace Rivals

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried raised only approximately $215,000 in May, according to newly filed campaign finance reports. Fried’s political action committee, Florida Consumers First, saw exactly $214,832 come in from primarily small-donor contributions. However, the May numbers do not reflect the campaign fundraising effort after she formally announced her candidacy on June 1.

Fried’s foremost competitors, Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), raised $1.2 million and $7.5 million, respectively. DeSantis has been on a fundraising crusade in recent months, raking in nearly $14 million back in April and capitalizing on his administration’s move to ban Critical Race Theory, banning transgender females from competing in female sports, and to push back against “cultural Marxism” in May.

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GOP Official Files Ethics Complaint Against Nikki Fried

Nikki Fried of Florida

Chairman of the Leon County GOP, Evan Power, filed an ethics complaint at the end of last week against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. He claimed the violation stems from her failing to disclose more than $400,000 in income on official financial disclosure forms, which she quickly amended after her official gubernatorial campaign launch on June 1.

One of the sources of her income increase is from Ignite Florida, a consulting firm where she is sole proprietor and lobbies the marijuana industry. Specifically, she amended a 2018 financial statement on May 28 indicating she received $351,480 from the firm. Previously, she had to amend the same 2018 statements on January 30, 2020 saying she received $72,000 in 2018 income.

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Nikki Fried Amends Financial Disclosure Ahead of Campaign Announcement

For the second time in less than two years Nikki Fried – the current Florida Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate – has amended her 2018 financial disclosure form filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics.

The latest amendment, filed on May 28, 2021, comes just days before she officially announced she would be running for governor.

The amendment relates to her gross income in part D of the form. Fried changed the amount of income she received from Igniting Florida to $351,480.

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Nikki Fried Backs Critical Race Theory in Florida Classrooms

Days before her likely official gubernatorial launch, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced her support for teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Florida’s schools and classrooms.

Fried is making a major announcement on June 1, which most are speculating is a governor’s race campaign launch, and in preparation for statewide attention, attended a local community meeting on Tuesday night where she criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for saying CRT is “divisive” and should not be taught in public schools.

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Florida Supreme Court Rules Against Marijuana Industry Challenge

Florida Supreme Court Building

Earlier this week the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a challenge from the medical marijuana industry, backing the state’s strict regulation of the industry’s business model standardized by the Florida legislature.

The challenge was filed by a marijuana company, Florigrown, where they contested the legislation put in place which limits the amount of medical marijuana licenses issued in Florida and requires dispensaries to grow and process their product. Florigrown was denied a license to become a medical marijuana treatment center in 2017.

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Florida Democrats Prepping for 2022 Challenges

Stephanie Murphy, Nikki Fried and Val Demings

Republicans have dominated Florida Democrats for nearly 30 years, where currently only one statewide elected post is occupied by a Democrat: Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. With Fried all but officially running against Governor Ron DeSantis and U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-FL-10) challenging Sen. Marco Rubio for his Senate seat in 2022, Florida Democrats are having to rearrange who is going to be running for open positions and the potential political losses those candidates could face.

If Fried continues on her current trajectory for a likely gubernatorial bid, Democrats might lose the only statewide post they have. Fried won in 2018, weeks after Hurricane Michael devastated the agriculture-rich areas of the Florida Panhandle, which saw diminished Republican Panhandle voter turnout compared to the rest of the state. Fried won the race narrowly by approximately 6,000 votes.

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Nikki Fried Has Financial Interest in Company Acquired by Trulieve

Commissioner Nikki Fried

Financial disclosure forms indicate that Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has a financial in Harvest Health & Recreation Inc., a company acquired by Trulieve Cannabis Corp. for $2.1 billion last week. Trulieve is one of the most notable cannabis companies in the United States and is the largest licensed cannabis company in Florida.

According to 2019 documents, Fried’s assets in Harvest Health totaled over $190,000, and her personal overall net worth increased by 416% during the time frame of June 2018 to June 2019. During that period, she was also gifted a $700,000 home with her fiancé Jake Bergmann, who has financial stake in another marijuana company, Surterra Wellness.

Fried has repeatedly promoted the cannabis industry as the Agriculture Commissioner while she and her family maintained financial interests in cannabis companies.

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Questions About Nikki Fried Begin to Surface

Nikki Fried

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has long been rumored to be challenging Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for the 2022 gubernatorial race but has yet to make a campaign launch official.

However, last week, on Twitter, she made an announcement indicating “something new” is coming on June 1 through a video.
Since she posted the video, news and political commentary about Fried and her personal relationships, business interests, potential ethical questions, and how they all fit together have entered the conversation in light of an impending campaign launch.

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DeSantis Leads Fundraising Effort by Wide Margin

Ron DeSantis

Governor Ron DeSantis’ political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, in 2021, has raised over $23 million, and nearly $14 million of the total was raised during April alone. During April, the campaign received primarily two large sums of money, one was for over $5 million from Chicago-based hedge funder Kenneth Griffin, and the other was a $2.8 million donation from the Republican Governors’ Association. Griffin was one of DeSantis’ primary contributors to his 2018 gubernatorial run.

DeSantis has not formally filed the paperwork to run for reelection in 2022, but the account is ramping up donations, indicating a DeSantis campaign is likely imminent.

Over 30 contributions came in totaling over $50,000, 139 contributions over $25,000, and 86 contributions of $100 to $500.

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Nikki Fried Announces ‘Something New’ for June 1

Earlier this week, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a video where she is planning on making a major announcement, and “something new” is coming on June 1.
In the video, clips of Fried tout her resume as the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida as well as rumors of her being an early frontrunner to challenge Governor Ron DeSantis in the gubernatorial race in 2022.

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Poll: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Leads Competitors by 10 Points

On Wednesday, the Florida Chamber of Commerce released a poll showing Governor Ron DeSantis leads each of his potential Democratic competitors by at least double-digit points in the 2022 gubernatorial race.

In a hypothetical head-to-head general election, DeSantis leads Rep. Charlie Crist 51-41. Against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the same scenario, DeSantis leads 51-39, and against Rep. Val Demings, DeSantis leads 53-38.

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Nikki Fried Demands Answers About Piney Point, Environmental ‘Ticking Time Bombs’

The State of Florida is set to put $115 million into the clean-up of the Piney Point phosphate plant in Manatee County after a reservoir leak led to sulfate emissions, evacuations over a potential reservoir wall collapse, and a potential flood leading to contaminated water in Manatee County. Now, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is asking Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein what his agency knows about other potential environmental disasters.

Due to a leak in early April, 200 million gallons of wastewater were dumped into Tampa Bay, and its impact is still unknown. Discharges from Piney Point stopped on April 9, and DEP teams have been monitoring the discharge site to see if it resumes. So far, no more discharges have taken place.

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Election Reform Law Faces Immediate Lawsuits

Governor Ron DeSantis signed an elections reform bill into law Thursday and opposition groups have already filed lawsuits against it. The new law, known as SB90, sets in place limits on access to ballot drop boxes and well as requiring those same ballot drop boxes to be monitored by an employee of the supervisor of elections’ office.

Additionally, voters who wish to request an absentee ballot will have to do so each general election cycle.

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Florida Congressman Charlie Crist Announces a Run for Governor

Charlie Crist

U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist (R-13) announced he is running for governor in 2022. He is the first major Democratic opponent for Governor Ron DeSantis.

“Florida has a governor that’s only focused on his future, not yours,” said Crist in a campaign launch video.

Florida Democrats have reacted positively to Crist’s announcement, including St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman who has been a vocal opponent to DeSantis and praised Crist.

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Nikki Fried’s Medical Marijuana Card Issued for Sleep Issues

On April 14, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried posted a video to social media displaying her medical marijuana card. In the video, Fried reminded viewers medical marijuana was passed by 71 percent of Floridians through a ballot initiative in 2016. The medical marijuana issue was a calling card for Fried’ campaign in 2018, and it has been reported Fried has a financial interest in the marijuana industry.
However, Fried followed up the clip with a 15-minute interview with Jim DeFede at Facing South Florida where she said she was approved for a medical marijuana card due to a sleeping disorder.

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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried Addresses Marijuana, DeSantis, and Democrats

Nikki Fried

  Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried recently appeared on Facing South Florida, with Jim DeFede and responded to questions related to medical marijuana, Governor DeSantis and her political future. Provided below is a summary of the interview. Jim Defede: You ran on legalizing medicinal marijuana and you want to move…

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