Way back in 2008, before he resigned in disgrace and was criminally charge for his budget dealings, new House Speaker Ray Sansom wanted to show he was going to govern in the sunshine by inviting the press and public to cover a Republican caucus meeting at WaterColor in the Panhandle
Sansom's ultimate successor, Dean Cannon, doesn't seem as concerned about those pesky reporters buzzing about. Unbeknownst to the press, Cannon has called all 81 members of the Republican caucus to meet nonstop at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort and talk legislative shop and process for two days.
One topic of discussion: "Communications and working with the press." If this little-known gathering is any indication, a more fitting title could be "Lack of Communications and working around the press."
The cost of the seminar near Universal Studios was paid for by the Republican Party, not by Florida taxpayers. Legislators described the event as all work and no play and they said no lobbyists were in evidence.
“This is not fun. This is work,” said House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami. “None of this is policy we’re talking about. It’s not like we’re talking about Senate bill 6 or what we’re going to vote on.”
A memo Lopez-Cantera sent out earlier this week to members advised them “to eat before your arrival… “Hotel rooms will be provided for Monday night, and your cost of gas will be reimbursed by the Republican Party of Florida ... We expect our program to run through all meals. Please do not schedule any other meetings or events during these two days, as we need your undivided attention to make this training a success.”