Backroom Briefing: The Return Of ‘Pot Daddy’

TALLAHASSEE — “Pot Daddy” is back to light up support for Amendment 3.

Orlando attorney John Morgan in 2016 led a ballot drive to allow medical marijuana in Florida. So maybe it should be no surprise that on Wednesday he endorsed a November ballot initiative, Amendment 3, that would allow recreational use of marijuana.

“They thought that I could help,” Morgan said while at his firm’s headquarters to announce his support for the proposed constitutional amendment spearheaded by the Smart & Safe Florida political committee. “They don’t call me Pot Daddy for nothing.”

The firm, Morgan & Morgan, continues to offer Pot Daddy swag on its merchandise website.

Morgan has already cut a series of commercials to support Amendment 3. But don’t expect Morgan to pump millions of his own dollars into the campaign as he did for the medical-marijuana amendment and another successful initiative in 2020 to raise the minimum wage.

The Smart & Safe Florida committee is primarily backed by medical-marijuana giant Trulieve. The recreational-pot proposal has drawn opposition from the Republican Party of Florida and other GOP leaders.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis, for example, said last month that if the amendment passes, “This state will start to smell like marijuana in our cities and towns. It will reduce the quality of life.”

Morgan, who now lives half of the year in Hawaii and acknowledged he takes “a gummy” nightly before bed, argued DeSantis’ stance is less about the smell of “skunk” than “making the pharmaceutical industry happy.”

Morgan said he expects the proposed amendment to receive the required 60 percent voter support to pass. He also anticipates the recreational-pot industry will be heavily regulated, similar to medical marijuana businesses, as lawmakers carry out the amendment.

“Just because we vote it in doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you’re going to have it next to churches,” Morgan said.


Secretary of State Cord Byrd’s office says only county supervisors of elections can remove people from election rolls, as it faces criticism from voting-rights groups for forwarding a list of names to be checked. The list was linked to a controversial database known as EagleAI.

Responding to questions about the criticism, Department of State Director of External Affairs Mark Ard said in an email Wednesday that it isn’t uncommon for the department or elections supervisors to receive inquiries from concerned citizens about potentially ineligible voters or voting fraud.

“Regardless of the source, if the department receives list maintenance information, we share that information with the supervisors of elections to act accordingly,” Ard wrote. “However, neither the department nor supervisors would, or should, take action to change a voter’s record, to remove a voter from the rolls, or refer a voter for investigation without first exercising due diligence to determine credible and reliable information exists to substantiate the initial information provided.”

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Groups including All Voting Is Local Action Florida, the American Civil Liberties Union and Common Cause said in a letter Friday to Byrd that the state shouldn’t use “unreliable” data from EagleAI and other platforms for voter list maintenance. They said such usage could violate state and federal laws and potentially affect the voting status of thousands of Floridians.

“A concerning aspect of EagleAI is that it presents itself as nonpartisan software, which is disingenuous,” the letter said. “This tool has repeatedly been supported by known election deniers who want to re-litigate the 2020 election. Its supporters should be understood not as people who are genuinely trying to improve elections but as people who are purposefully sowing distrust in our elections.”

The distribution of the EagleA1 data and the response from voting-rights groups was first reported by NBC News.

The groups argued that Florida law bars the use of non-governmental entities to conduct voter-list maintenance and prohibits frivolous challenges to voter information.

Their letter said that when the list was forwarded to local officials in a May 15 email, Maria Matthews, the director of the Florida Division of Elections, wrote that the names came from “a concerned citizen.” The email indicated the citizen raised concerns about “potential interstate registered voters.”

In the email, Matthews noted she was unclear how “the information was exactly compiled and what all sources were consulted to derive this list.”

Byrd last year ended Florida’s involvement in the multistate Electronic Registration Information Center, known as ERIC, which exchanges voter-registration data, because of “potential partisan leanings.”

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While a state lawmaker, Democrat Randolph Bracy tried to make people more aware of racial violence that occurred in Ocoee on election day in 1920.

Now, he and his wife, Kietta, are backing a movie on the topic, with filming planned next year.

Bracy represented an Orange County district in the Senate from 2016 to 2022, after four years in the House.

During that time Bracy backed several pieces of legislation focused on the 1920 Ocoee Election Day riot, which came after a Black man tried to record the names of others blocked from voting in the Central Florida community. The ensuing violence left more than 50 people dead and Ocoee as a “sundown” town for decades.

Bracy, who lost a bid for Congress in 2022, has opened a campaign account to run this year in Senate District 15. Incumbent Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, is seeking re-election in the district.

SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE WEEK: “Frankly, Mother Teresa had more issues than Donald Trump. President Trump did nothing wrong. There are no victims. He’s being persecuted. Lawfare. Hard to believe the system is fair if he isn’t fully acquitted!” — Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis).

Other stories you may want to read:

Larry Elder: ‘Trump Criminal Trial: Even Trump-Hating Analysts Scratch Their Heads’

Judicial Candidate Blocked from Ballot

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