Fighting Propaganda: Check Your Sources

Fighting Propaganda: Check Your Sources

If you’ve been following the findings of Republican Rep. Jim Jordan’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, then you know that the existence of a “Censorship Complex” targeting conservatives and right-leaning news outlets is not a “conspiracy theory” but an actual conspiracy. And worse, the collusion between Big Tech and the federal government was funded by your tax dollars through the Department of Defense and its CISA subagency.

The House Judiciary Select Committee report from June 26, 2023 details their findings.

CISA, we learn from the report, is “a little-known agency buried in the depths of DHS” that creepily expanded its mission in the name of combatting ‘foreign disinformation’ and later “began surveilling and censoring American citizens online, directly and by proxy.”

The primary targets were then candidate and President Donald J. Trump, his son Don Jr., and a host of conservative individuals including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Mollie Hemingway, Jack Posobiec, Sean Hannity, Dave Rubin, along with media outlets like One America News, New York Post and Newsmax. Even parody publications like Babylon Bee did not escape the attack on free speech.

You can read all the reports from the House Judiciary Committee and Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on the House Judiciary website.

In the House Select Subcommittee’s Nov. 6, 2023 report it’s revealed that the suppression of free speech began “in the lead-up to the 2020 election, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.” As Americans and lawmakers were openly discussing changes in election laws and procedures that were happening mid-cycle “their constitutionally protected speech was intentionally suppressed as a consequence of the federal government’s direct coordination with third-party organizations, particularly universities, and social media platforms.”

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that it’s a given that the government cannot outsource actions that are unconstitutional. The House Select Subcommittee rightly observes that such censorship-by-proxy is “an especially nefarious form of state action, given that it is designed to evade detection, oversight efforts, and public records requests.”

The Big Tech actors, left-leaning organizations, and, sadly, weaponized government agencies will no doubt be at it again in 2024. They will find new ways to keep tearing down our constitutional republic, through lawfare like denying Trump a place on the ballot, using divisive propaganda, pushing for mass mail-in voting, and censoring citizens (in the U.S. and abroad).

In the March 2023 hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, independent journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Schellenberger, called out a news-rating company, NewsGuard, and the Global Disinformation Index as part of the vast Censorship Complex. In his testimony, Taibbi revealed that NewsGuard received $750,000 in funding from the DoD.

At the same March 9, 2023 hearing, Schellenberger testified:

“NewsGuard and the Global Disinformation Index, both taxpayer-funded, are urging advertisers to boycott disfavored publications, and direct their funding to favored ones. The organizations have been caught spreading disinformation, including that the COVID lab leak theory is a debunked conspiracy theory, and seeking to discredit publications which accurately reported on Hunter Biden’s laptop, such as the New York Post.”

The disinformation spread is pervasive. According to its own website and news releases, NewsGuard partners include Microsoft Education, Bing, the U.S. Department of State, The American Federation of Teachers, University of Michigan, Giphy, PubMatic, Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and the World Health Organization. Elon Musk, CEO of X (formerly Twitter) called NewsGuard a “scam” that should be disbanded.

In true Owellian fashion, it turns out NewsGuard’s “red-rated” media outlets (those deemed unreliable) are likely the most reliable sources around. Among the censored or “red-rated” news outlets are One America News, Newsmax, Gateway Pundit, and The Federalist.

Despite their efforts, a majority of Americans seem to be tuning out the propaganda. Let’s hope.

As we enter the fight of our lives against the statists in the 2024 Election Cycle, we must be vigilant to protect free speech and call out violations to our individual rights. At the very least, we should be aware of the very real collusion between Big Tech and the federal government to suppress free speech.

Here’s a list of favorite conservative news sources from Liberty Nation, no doubt “red-rated” by NewsGuard. But you can be the judge.

Thanks for reading “Fighting Propaganda: Check Your Sources” by the

Rep. Cory Mills Addresses SeminoleGOP

Rep. Cory Mills Addresses SeminoleGOP

Rep. Cory Mills Addresses SCREC

Rep. Cory Mills Addresses SeminoleGOP

On Aug. 17, U.S. Congressman Cory Mills (FL-07) addressed the members of SCREC to report on the current state of affairs in Washington, D.C., and his efforts to protect American values, the Constitution, and our unalienable rights.

Cory Mills went through a number of bills he has sponsored or supported that have been introduced or passed by the House including:

  • H.R.863 aimed at ending the sexualization of children in our public schools by holding publishers accountable for their role in providing visually explicit materials to school-age children
  • H.R.277, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2023, or the REINS Act, aimed at increasing legislative oversight of executive agencies’ rulemaking authority by requiring a congressional approval process for a major rule (one that has significant, harmful financial or economic impacts to businesses or consumers, or financial implications to the U.S. economy greater than $100 million)
  • H.R.26, the Born-Alive Abortions Protections Act stipulating requirements for care by practitioners in the case of a child born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion

To date, several conservative bills have passed the House only to languish in the Senate. Rep. Mills urges all constituents to call their Senators and urge them to act on House bills they support that have passed. Legislation can be researched at

The Capitol Hill switchboard number is: (202) 224-3121.

Legislative Roundup Part 3

Rep. David Smith speaking on the House floor. Legislative Roundup Part 3

Legislative Roundup Part 3

Seniority benefits Seminole Rep. David Smith’s leadership skills

If you read the previous article First-year Representatives Bankson, Plakon, and Plasencia dedicated to hard work and Republican values, then you got a taste of the amount of work first-year Representatives are expected to accomplish and that was just part of their legislative duties.

Senior Congressmen such as Rep. David Smith (Dist. 38) chair the committees with which the first-year Representatives are assigned. For instance, Smith, a retired Marine Colonel, is the Chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining, Vice-Chair of the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, and the Republican Committee Whip on the Infrastructure Strategies Committee. A committee whip is responsible for counting heads and rounding up party members for votes and quorum calls and they assume leadership of the committee should the Chair be absent.

He also sits on the Transportation and Modals Subcommittee (a subcommittee of the Infrastructure Strategies Committee), the Rules Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, and the Civil Justice Subcommittee.

Senior Congressmen also debate on the House Floor, participate in budgetary matters advocating for funding for their districts or for statewide initiatives, and, of course, sponsor and co-sponsor bills.

This past session Smith sponsored twelve bills, nine of which successfully passed and three that died in committee. Bills that passed include a bill that adds judicial assistants and their families to list of public records exemptions, a veterans’ services and recognition bill, expunction of criminal history records for certain people, a bill concerning offenses against certain animals, interstate education compacts, a public records and meetings exemption for the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact Commission, modification of a regulation concerning car dealer leasing and rental affiliates, a bill that revises regulations concerning Sanford Airport Authority and a bill which modifies regulations regarding the Florida Institutions Inmate Welfare Trust Fund.

Smith also co-sponsored 11 bills with six passing. Bills included the Catalytic Converter Anti-Theft Act, a bill to preserve abandoned and historic cemeteries, two bills to modify the Florida Retirement System, a bill modifying the public nuisance laws, and a bill that modifies the law concerning assault and battery on hospital personnel.

Besides providing constituent services, Rep. Smith also drafts, promotes, and helps shape legislation and provides oversight on relevant and critical issues as well as collaborates and negotiates with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground and advance legislation in a bipartisan effort.

Barbara Haiss Martin is an award-winning journalist who has lived in Seminole County with her husband, John, since 1972.

New Laws Passed in 2023 | Legislative Roundup Part 3

New Laws Passed in 2023 | Legislative Roundup Part 3

Florida’s New Medical Freedom Laws

Gov. DeSantis signed four pieces of legislation into law in the 2023 Legislative session that provide strong protections of medical freedom for Floridians. The laws address medical mandates, empower doctors, and prohibit dangerous gain of function research. For a summary, click here to view a PDF created by the Governor’s Office.

Below is from the Governor’s Office news release issued May 11, 2023:

“The landmark legislative package signed today safeguards residents’ freedom by ensuring no patient is forced by a business, school, or government entity to undergo testing, wear a mask, or be vaccinated for COVID-19. The legislation also affords medical professionals the freedom to collaborate with patients in prescribing alternative treatments and protects physicians’ freedom of speech. Lastly, Florida is the first state to ban unsafe and unregulated gain-of-function research, like the research conducted in the Wuhan lab.”

The bills signed into law include the following:

Senate Bill 252
– Most Comprehensive Medical Freedom Bill in the Nation:

  • Prohibiting business and governmental entities from requiring individuals to provide proof of vaccination or post-infection recovery from any disease to gain access to, entry upon, or service from such entities.
  • Prohibiting employers from refusing employment to or discharging, disciplining, demoting, or otherwise discriminating against an individual solely on the basis of vaccination or immunity status.
  • Prevents discrimination against Floridians related to COVID-19 vaccination or immunity status, etc.

House Bill 1387 – Banning Gain of Function Research:

  • Prohibiting “gain of function” research, also known as enhanced potential pandemic pathogen research.

Senate Bill 1580 – Physicians Freedom of Speech:

  • Providing that health care providers and health care payors have the right to opt out of participation in or payment for certain health care services on the basis of conscience-based objections.
  • Providing requirements for a health care provider’s notice and documentation of such objection.
  • Providing whistle-blower protections for health care providers and health care payors that take certain actions or disclose certain information relating to the reporting of certain violations.
  • Prohibiting boards, or the Department of Health if there is no board, from taking disciplinary action against or denying a license to an individual based solely on specified conduct, etc.

Senate Bill 238 – Public Records/Protection from Discrimination Based on Health Care Choices

  • Providing an exemption from public records requirements for certain information relating to complaints or investigations regarding violations of provisions protecting from discrimination based on health care choices.

These laws make Florida a leader in medical freedom — something to remember as talk of mask mandates and new COVID variants increases, just in time for the Presidential primary season. The 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses will be held on January 15, 2024. Florida’s Presidential primary is on March 19, 2024.

In case you missed reading the more than 200 laws passed during the 2023 Florida Legislative session, here are the links to the chapter PDFs:

View all new 2023 laws »

View 2023 bill summaries »

‘Sound of Freedom’ grosses $100M in its first three weeks

‘Sound of Freedom’ grosses $100M in its first three weeks

‘Sound of Freedom’ grosses $100M in its first three weeks

You may still be able to see this incredible film. Its “unexpected” and remarkable success has kept it running in AMC theaters. The film tells the story of Tim Ballard, a former DHS special agent who goes on a mission to rescue child-trafficking victims. Showing in Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, and Oviedo. Check local listings for times and theaters.

Sound of Freedom is a 2023 American action film directed and co-written by Alejandro Monteverde, and starring Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino, and Bill Camp. Caviezel plays Tim Ballard, a former U.S. government agent who embarks on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia. It is produced by Eduardo Verástegui, who also plays a role in the film. The plot centers around Ballard’s Operation Underground Railroad, an anti-sex trafficking organization.

The film was released on July 4, 2023, by Angel Studios, and became a sleeper hit; it has grossed over $149 million against a $14.5 million budget. It received mixed reviews from critics, while audience reception has been highly positive

Sound of Freedom | ‘Sound of Freedom’ grosses $100M in its first three weeks

Accuracy of ‘Sound of Freedom’

The film was inspired by the life of Tim Ballard, who left the Department of Homeland Security around 2013 and founded Operation Underground Railroad to work with local police in other countries to catch child sex traffickers. The film’s central plot point, that of a brother and sister lured to a photo shoot in Honduras, is not an event that Ballard has claimed actually happened. According to American Crime Journal reporters, Ballard embellished details about the story told in the film.

Ballard stated that “Some things are definitely overreported”. He did not go into the jungle by himself to rescue a little girl nor did he kill a man to rescue the child. According to Ballard, the island rescue Operation Triple Take involved both minors and adults, while the film portrays all victims as children. Ballard stated that his team not only rescued 54 minors but 123 individuals at two additional locations

Meet Tim Ballard

Hailing from California, Tim Ballard was a disciplined child. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he had to serve a two-year mission to Chile. After finishing his mission, Ballard went to Brigham Young University to pursue his studies.

He obtained a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and political science and went on to study for his master’s degree at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, graduating with a Master of Arts in international politics.

He then worked as a U.S. Special Agent for the Department of Homeland Security on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and the U.S. Child Sex Tourism Jump Team. It was after serving the government for 12 years that he found Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) in 2013.

What is Operation Underground Railroad?

After leaving the government service in 2013, Ballard founded a non-profit organization named O.U.R. to work towards rescuing trafficking victims. The organization has also helped in the arrest of a man suspected of distributing child pornography.

Because of all the great work by O.U.R., Ballard was able to testify before the United States Congress House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Human Rights in May 2015. He also discussed different strategies and approaches for saving children from trafficking rings. Ballard has also advocated partnerships between the U.S. government and non-governmental organizations that rescue trafficking victims.

In 2019, he also had a long discussion with the US Senate Judiciary Committee about US-Mexico border protection and its association with child sex trafficking.

However, it is important to note that this organization has not been mentioned in the movie at all but you will see it being promoted on the official website of  O.U.R.

‘Sound of Freedom’ grosses $100M in its first three weeks movie update was made possible by the Seminole County Republican Party

2023 Local Elections Dates To Know

2023 Local Elections Dates To Know

2023 Local Elections

2023 Local Elections Dates To Know

2023 Local Elections Dates To Know made possible by the Seminole County Republican Party

Dates to Know


Aug. 23, 2023: First debate of the Republican presidential primary (Wisconsin)

Nov. 7, 2023: 2023 municipal elections may be held for Oviedo, Lake Mary and Altamonte Springs (based on results of candidate qualifying – see latest City Elections article).

Anyone who has not yet registered to vote in Florida must do so 29 days before the first election in which they’d like to vote.


March 9-16, 2024: Mandatory Early Voting Period for Presidential Preference Primary Election

March 19, 2024: Presidential Preference Primary Election (PPP)

The deadline to register to vote in this closed-primary election is Feb. 20, 2024. Voters registered with those parties express their preference for the presidential candidate they would like to see representing their party on the General Election ballot in November 2024. After the PPP, designated political party delegates from Florida formally nominate the preferred presidential candidate at the respective party’s national convention.

July 15-18, 2024: GOP National Convention at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Aug. 20, 2024: State Primary Election Date(deadline to register to vote in this election is July 22, 2024)

Nov. 5, 2024: 2024 General Election (deadline to register to vote in this election is Oct. 7, 2024)

Source: Florida Division of Elections

For more information, visit or view the SOE Voter Guide.


Here’s what’s on the 2024 ballot in Seminole County:

  • All five Constitutional Offices (including the offices of Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, Clerk of the Circuit, and Supervisor of Elections)
  • All four State Representatives
  • Three of the County Commission seats
  • Two School Board seats (Republicans Amy Pennock and Abby Sanchez are both up for election in 2024)
  • The Public Defender
  • The District Attorney
  • Florida’s 7th Congressional District Representative
  • One U.S. Senate seat

View all Seminole County 2023 and 2024 candidates at:

Help get incumbent Grant Maloy on the ballot in 2024 for Clerk of the Circuit Court: Download your petition and follow the return instructions. Visit for more information on Grant’s campaign.

Paid for by the Seminole County Republican Executive Committee.
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee

2023 Local Elections Dates To Know - Vote by mail laws.

Vote by Mail Laws

  • A law passed in 2021 (SB 90) requires voters to re-request mail ballots if they plan to vote that way in the future. Vote-by-mail requests now last for two years instead of four. Visit or call 407-585-VOTE (8683) to start voting from home.
  • All requests for Vote by Mail ballots that were in place prior to the law’s effective date (5/6/21) were valid through the end of 2022 and are now voided.
  • One vote-by-mail request covers all elections through the end of the calendar year of the next scheduled general election unless the voter specifies an election period.
  • The last day to request a mail ballot be mailed to your address is 5 p.m. 10 days prior to an election.
  • Voted mail ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day at the Supervisor of Elections office. Mail ballots cannot be forwarded to other addresses by the United States Postal Service.
  • Voters also need to provide their Florida Driver’s License number, Florida State ID number, or the last four digits of their Social Security Number, whichever can be matched to information on file with the Supervisor of Elections.
  • The law also bans ballot harvesting in Florida.
  • Visit the vote-by-mail page at Florida’s DOE site for more information.
  • This law also updated voter registration processes including requiring the registration of any third-party collector of voter registration forms.

Questions? Email to connect with State Committeewoman Linda Trocine or contact State Committeeman Jesse Phillips.

Last chance to qualify for a city race

Here are the qualifying dates:

  • Oviedo starts and closes first: Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, to noon, Friday, Aug. 11, 2023
  • Altamonte Springs dates: Noon on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023
  • Lake Mary dates: Noon on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, to noon on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023

Contact the City Clerk in each of the cities:

August 2023 SCREC Subcommittee News

August 2023 SCREC Subcommittee News

August 2023 SCREC Subcommittee News

The August 2023 SCREC Subcommittee News was made possible by the Seminole County Republican Party

SCREC Subcommittee News


Two Republican School Board members Amy Pennock and Abby Sanchez sit on the board with three Democrats and need our continued support, so if you can attend a school board meeting, please do so. Pennock and Sanchez are both up for election in 2024. A calendar of public meetings is available online at Board meetings are held at the Educational Support Center (400 E. Lake Mary Blvd., Sanford, FL 32773). The August School Board meeting is on Aug. 15 at 5:30 p.m.

If you are interested in supporting the Seminole County Moms for Liberty Chapter, reach out to Chapter Chair Jessica Tillman at or visit their website:


Mike Lindell presents an Election Summit event, “The Plan Revealed,” on Aug. 16-17. Visit to get your free online gift and exclusive access to this live event!

August 2023 SCREC Subcommittee News

If you have an interest in election integrity and are able to help on EI projects, contact any member of the Election Integrity Committee or reach out to Chair Dennis Schoeppner at


Ryan Allen, our point of contact for RPOF Chairman Chris Ziegler’s War Room, which serves as a grassroots network for RECs. The goal is to help take our message of freedom to “every nook and cranny” of our state. Ryan is working to help coordinate communications between SCREC and the Republican Party of Florida. If you have news or information for Ryan, you can connect with him by emailing

LINCOLN DAY DINNER: Our 2023 Lincoln Day Dinner planning is still underway with the likely venue to be the Marriott in Lake Mary in the fall. More to come!

GET INVOLVED TODAY: We encourage SCREC members and non-members who are registered Republicans to volunteer for a committee. To connect with Chairs or to volunteer, email We especially need volunteers for the Community Outreach and Precinct Training and Accountability Committee.

We always need volunteers! Help share our love of liberty out in the community and reach new voters. If you can spare a few hours to help at a Seminole GOP community outreach event, please email to get details on volunteer opportunities.

Legislative Roundup Part 2

Legislative Roundup Part 2

Legislative Roundup Part 2 was made possible by the Seminole County Republican Party

Legislative Roundup Part 2 was made possible by the Seminole County Republican Party

By Barbara Haiss Martin

Seminole’s Senator Brodeur hits some out of the park, but one foul lands in the Press Box

Seminole’s State Senator Jason Brodeur (District 10), while still in his first four-year term as Senator, is not a political rookie having served in the House of Representatives for 10 years prior. With more than 900 bills submitted to the Senate last session, all 40 Senators received numerous committee assignments where they conduct hearings, review incoming bills, and elicit debate as well as public input before voting.

Senators also draft and sponsor/co-sponsor bills as well as present their bills to various committees. Other duties include constituent services and building relationships with other Senators.

While three of his Seminole counterparts in the House (all first-term Representatives including Rachel Plakon, House District 36; Susan Plasencia, HD 37; Doug Bankson, HD 39) are assigned four or five committees to sit on with no Chair or Vice-Chair responsibilities, in the last session, Brodeur sat on nine committees.

He was Chairman of the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government and Vice-Chair of the Health Policy Committee. He also sponsored 32 bills and co-sponsored seven. Rep. David Smith (HD 38), first elected in 2018 and serving consecutive terms since, held three leadership positions including Chair, Vice-Chair, and Republican Committee Whip for the Infrastructure Strategies Committee and was assigned seven committees or subcommittees in total.

Brodeur did have 11 bills successfully pass through the committee to become law. Many of the bills he sponsored related to health care, but one bill, SB 1316 Information Dissemination, caused local and national news media to cry foul along with First Amendment groups.

The bill would require bloggers to register and reveal who compensated them for the stories written about elected state officials including the Governor, Lt. Governor, Cabinet officers or any member of the Legislature. Regular reports were required or fines would begin to accrue. Needless to say, Brodeur was the only sponsor and while it “officially” died in the Judiciary Committee, I could find no video, record, or agenda showing Brodeur ever pitched his bill to the Judiciary Committee or any other committee.

Some of the bills that Brodeur did get passed included the expansion of the state’s trail system, adding synthetic opioids to the list of Schedule I controlled substances, requiring specified local officials to file a more detailed financial disclosure form and to disclose conflicts of financial interest, prescription drug reform act and SB 612 which Brodeur co-sponsored which creates an interagency workgroup to address blood clot and embolism education, prevention, and treatment.

Senator Brodeur is up for re-election in 2026.

Barbara Haiss Martin is an award-winning journalist who has lived in Seminole County with her husband, John, since 1972.

Florida Laws Passed in 2023

More than 200 bills were signed into law during the 2023 Florida Legislative session including a record $116.5 billion budget. Many of these laws went into effect on July 1.

Key bills sponsored by Seminole County Reps included HB 1 (expanding school choice), HB 95 (right of law enforcement and correctional officers), HB 365 (controlled substances), HB 7063 (tax relief), and HB 1297 (capital sexual battery).

View all new 2023 laws »

View 2023 bill summaries »

‘Sound of Freedom’ grosses $100M in its first three weeks

You may still be able to see this incredible film. Its “unexpected” and remarkable success has kept it running in AMC theaters. The film tells the story of Tim Ballard, a former DHS special agent who goes on a mission to rescue child-trafficking victims. Showing in Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, and Oviedo. Check local listings for times and theaters.

Legislative Roundup Part 2 was made possible by the Seminole County Republican Party

Florida Legislative Roundup Part 1

Florida Legislative Roundup Part 1

Florida Legislative Roundup: Part 1

Florida Legislative Roundup Part 1 was made possible by the Seminole County Republican Party!

Learn about the Seminole County Florida Republican Party Platform

In Seminole County, we had three first-year Representatives attend the Florida Legislative session in Tallahassee this year: Rep. Doug Bankson (Dist. 39); Rep Rachel Plakon (Dist. 36), and Rep. Susan Plasencia (Dist. 37). We also had experienced Rep. David Smith (Dist. 37) and Senator Jason Brodeur.

First-year Representatives are typically assigned by House and Senate leaders to various committees or subcommittees and typically don’t get to choose their assignments, including being assigned bills to sponsor/co-sponsor.

They are expected to review and monitor the implementation of existing laws as well as conduct hearings to review, amend and vote on bills presented before the committee so the bill can move on to the next step whether it be from a subcommittee to a committee or to a vote in the full House or Senate or maybe die in Committee – which is a frequent occurrence. And dying in committee could mean either in the House or the Senate. If it dies in one body, work on it is automatically stopped in the other. This year’s session saw more than 500 bills.

Congressmen are also expected to attend committee/subcommittee hearings to present a bill they have sponsored and to respond to questions. Bills typically go through multiple committees before they are passed. Congressmen also may have to be available to speak for a bill they have co-sponsored.

Congressmen have a list of other obligations as well but let’s just see how well our three first-year Representatives did this year.

Rep. Rachel Plakon (Dist. 36), Rep. Susan Plasencia (Dist. 37) and Rep. 
Doug Bankson (Dist. 39) all taking the Oath of Office at the beginning of the session

Rep. Rachel Plakon (Dist. 36), Rep. Susan Plasencia (Dist. 37), and Rep. Doug Bankson (Dist. 39) pictured taking the Oath of Office at the beginning of the session

Florida Legislative Roundup Part 1 was made possible by the Seminole County Republican Party!

Rep. Bankson was assigned to four committees and one subcommittee. He sponsored nine bills with two passing – one about commercial financing and one about the West Orange Healthcare District. Of the bills that did not make it, one was withdrawn in the Senate, five died in the Senate and for one bill there never was a Senate bill submitted. He also co-sponsored at least 44 bills. There may have been more as notices were being received after the session was over of him, Plakon, and Plasencia being a co-sponsor for additional bills. View a summary of Rep. Bankson’s bill »

Rep. Plakon was assigned to five committees. She sponsored nine bills with three successfully passing:  bills concerning controlled substances, people with disabilities, and facility requirements based on sex (gender). She co-sponsored at least 25 bills. View a summary of Rep. Plakon’s bills »

Rep. Plasencia was assigned five committees. In terms of bill passage, she was the most successful first-year Representative. She sponsored nine bills and six of them passed including the all-important HB 1 Education bill and HB 95 Rights of Law Enforcement Officers and Correctional Officers bill. She also had two bills passed about the people with disabilities registry. The last two bills that passed were about high school equivalency diplomas and roller-skating rink safety. She co-sponsored at least 40 bills. View a summary of Rep. Plasencia’s bills »

In addition, the Florida Legislature referred to two constitutional amendments to the ballot in 2024: one to make school board elections partisan and one to guarantee the right to hunt and fish. See Ballotpedia for more information.

Next month:  How did Rep. David Smith and Senator Jason Brodeur do? Plus, more on the bills signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Barbara Haiss Martin is an award-winning journalist who has lived in Seminole County with her husband, John, since 1972.

Learn more about your Seminole County Republican Party. Remember to follow us on Facebook!

A Look at RPOF Rule 8 Endorsements

A Look at RPOF Rule 8 Endorsements.

By Allison Taylor

A Look at RPOF Rule 8 Endorsements. | Seminole County Republican Party

RPOF Rule 8 under the current Party Rules of the Republican State Executive Committee, which governs the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), allows for the State Committee and a County Executive Committee to “endorse, certify, screen, or recommend a Republican candidate in a contested Republican primary, or a registered Republican in a nonpartisan election (including judicial races where it is legally permissible)” when certain conditions are met.

Though its origin is difficult to research, Rule 8 has a long history in Florida GOP politics. Some longtime party members (with decades of experience) speculate that it may have come about to thwart former members of the Ku Klux Klan, who were primarily Southern Democrats, from switching parties to run for office as Republicans. By invoking Rule 8, you could keep out those who would taint the party and its principles.

RPOF Rule 8 endorsements: Two schools of thought

Given what’s at stake, RPOF Rule 8 endorsements can be a powerful and effective political tool. But while endorsements may give a candidate momentum, they don’t guarantee the winner. And often they are steeped in controversy.

When Volusia County’s Executive Committee endorsed a slew of candidates in the 2022 primary election season (as they’ve done since 2012 except for 2020), they were met with a slew of legal issues that included a cease-and-desist letter from a non-endorsed candidate, a grievance filing with RPOF, and accusations of “chicanery” from a Council member. This article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal details all the commotion.

While some RECs love Rule 8 and wield it deftly, others see endorsements as undermining GOP voters by throwing weight behind one. Why not let the voters decide?

This traditionalist school sees Rule 8 as being used only in rare circumstances, when there is a need to sever ties with an unseemly candidate, such as one facing criminal charges.

Afterall, County Executive Committee members are charged with supporting all Republican candidates for local, state, and federal offices, or any registered Republicans in non-partisan races, where permissible — unless Rule 8 has been properly applied.

Another school of thought says that sometimes it may be prudent to back the strongest Republican candidate in a contested race — that is, the best candidate who is most likely to win. If this sounds a bit subjective to you, you would not be alone.

To invoke Rule 8 requires careful procedures that include no less than “10 days’ written notice to each member of the Executive Committee of any meeting at which the vote is to be taken” with a copy of the notice to the Republican Party of Florida.

Further, each announced candidate must also be notified that a vote on endorsement is to be taken and that “he or she will be allowed to speak at such meeting in support or opposition to any proposed endorsement, certification, or recommendation for an office for which he or she is a candidate.”

And, per the rules, the endorsement is achieved by one of two methods:

(1) Upon the affirmative vote of not less than 60% of the County Executive Committee present and voting at a duly called meeting complying with notice requirements set forth below, provided that the number voting to endorse represents a majority of the full committee, or

(2) upon the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds (2/3) of those present and voting at such meeting, provided that a quorum is present at the time the vote is taken.

In 2022, our Seminole REC did not invoke RPOF Rule 8 in the contested races (neither partisan nor non-partisan), though Gov. DeSantis’ office had advised doing so for the School Board races only.

Having so many qualified candidates on the primary ballot in the School Board races resulted in splitting the votes between the GOP candidates. Left-wing candidates ended up taking the three seats up for re-election. (In District 1, Kristine Kraus won outright; and, in Districts 2 and 5, registered Republicans Sean Cooper and Dana Fernandez, respectively, advanced to runoffs in the General Election but were then defeated).

In the all-important 2024 presidential race, Donald Trump currently leads in endorsements of the registered big-name candidates. According to Ballotpedia’s site, among the more than 100 Republicans who have filed to run, only Trump, Nikki Haley, and Sen. Tim Scott have received any endorsements.

As of May 25, Trump had received 77 noteworthy endorsements including 51 U.S. House members, 10 U.S. Senators, and 2 governors. Nine U.S. Reps from Florida have endorsed Trump including: Vern Buchanan, Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz, Anna Paulina Luna, Brian Mast, John Rutherford, Greg Steube, Michael Waltz, and our own rep, Cory Mills. DeSantis trails with 11 endorsements. Sen. Tim Scott has received two endorsements, and Nikki Haley has received one.

The Republican Party will select its presidential nominee at the 2024 Republican National Convention, which will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from July 15-18, 2024.  

As we approach the 2024 races, any use of Rule 8 should be made judiciously and in full compliance with RPOF rules to stave off any legal actions. As its history implies, when applied, the rule will likely cause a severing of ties.

Read the full text of RPOF Rule 8.

Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Seminole County Republican Executive Committee or board.

Learn more about your Seminole County Republican Party. Remember to follow us on Facebook!

 [A1]Link to RPOF Rules of Procedures

How we lost the right to partisan school board elections

How we lost the right to partisan school board elections

How we lost the right to partisan school board elections blog article was made possible by the SeminoleGOP

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How we lost the right to partisan school board elections

By Barbara Haiss Martin

A joint resolution (HJR-31) to restore partisan elections of school board members passed both the House and Senate and heads to the Secretary of State’s office to be placed on the 2024 ballot as an amendment to the Constitution. If the amendment passes with a 60 percent vote, it would take effect at the next general election in 2026. The vote in both the House and Senate was along party lines with Republicans voting for the measure and Democrats voting against it.

All four Seminole County State Representatives Doug Bankson, Rachel Plakon, Susan Plasencia, and David Smith voted for the House Resolution.  Seminole’s State Senator Jason Brodeur voted for the Senate version of the resolution.

So how was this right to elect school board members in partisan elections lost?

Early Florida Constitutions apparently left the education election details up to the counties. In Seminole County, according to Sanford Herald news articles and editorials from 1914 through 1997, the county switched back and forth between partisan and non-partisan elections depending upon who was in office. But having Republicans in office didn’t necessarily guarantee a partisan vote for school board members. Seminole voted in partisan elections through a 15-member Charter Review Commission after voters had voted for a new Charter Government in 1993.

Tallahassee had its own review commission. A Florida Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC) was voted in by electors (about 1958) and was tasked to meet every 20 years and propose changes to the Constitution. Those changes were Amendments placed directly on the next ballot to be voted on by the public. The process bypassed any work or review of Legislators.

Florida’s previous Constitutions had revision clauses that allowed legislators to refer a Constitutional Amendment to the ballot, to accept valid citizen initiatives, and to call for a Constitutional Convention.

The first CRC met in 1977 and placed eight constitutional amendments on the 1978 ballot. All were rejected by the voters.

Twenty years later in 1997 when the second Florida Constitutional Revision Commission met, eight of the nine amendments placed on the 1998 election passed including one for non-partisan school board elections. It took effect in the 2000 election.

Fifteen of the 37 unelected CRC commissioners in 1997 were appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles (D); nine by President of the Senate Toni Jennings (R); nine by Speaker of the House Daniel Webster (R); three by Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court Gerald Kogan (D) and Gov. Chiles appointed the Chairman.

So the last time we lost the right to vote in fair partisan elections for school board members, was when Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate. However, the Governor appointed 19 of the 37 commissioners to give the Democrats a one-vote advantage.

At least twice since the creation of the CRC, the legislature attempted to abolish it through a ballot amendment, but, so far, each time the voters have rejected it.  It meets again in 2037.

Since the joint resolution has made it to the ballot, now the real work begins to educate Republicans and Independents before the election.

Democrats, of course, have always favored non-partisan elections since it gives them an advantage. They traditionally work in lockstep and just put up one candidate. Since Republicans are more freedom-minded, whomever wants to run for office, runs. Last election, Republicans had several well-qualified candidates with two or three each running against the one Democrat in each of three school board races. All three Democrats won outright or in a run-off election a month later.

School Board elections are listed on primaries, not general elections. Because they are non-partisan, there are no primaries for them.

Since the next school board election will be held in 2024 prior to passage of the Amendment, one solution for Republicans is to have their own private, in-house primary and select one candidate (in each race) to run against the whomever the Democrats put up for the school board seats. This would eliminate the Democrats’ advantage as well as preventing a Democrat-funded Republican from winning the race as nearly happened in the last school board race.

Thanks for reading the article written by Republican Barbara Martin on “How we lost the right to partisan school board elections” Remember to follow us on Facebook!

Barbara Haiss Martin is an award-winning journalist who has lived in Seminole County with her husband, John, since 1972.

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