Michael Van Sickler, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Michael Van Sickler

Michael has been with the Tampa Bay Times since 2003. A Cleveland, Ohio, native, he graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., and got his master's degree at the University of Florida. He has worked at the Ledger and the Palm Beach Post. For the Times, he has covered everything from mortgage fraud, growth and development in Tampa Bay, and St. Petersburg City Hall. He now covers state politics and government as part of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

Phone: (850) 224-7263.

Email: mvansickler@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MikeVanSickler

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  1. Sheldon awaits Bondi's response to his request for five debates

    Blog

    Officially, Attorney Pam Bondi was the first to issue the debate challenge to George Sheldon.

    It was just minutes after Sheldon had won the Democratic nomination for Attorney General on Tuesday night when Bondi's campaign blasted an email stating that Bondi "calls for general election debate."...

  2. Gov. Rick Scott promises $1 billion in tax cuts for second term

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott is promising Florida voters a $1 billion package of tax and fee cuts in a second term, including new limits on property tax increases and another cut in auto tag fees.

    Every one of the proposals Scott will roll out in a two-week statewide tour starting Monday would require the approval of the Legislature, which previously has been lukewarm to Scott's call for a phase-out of the state corporate income tax and a sales tax break for manufacturers....

    Gov. Rick Scott's most ambitious tax cut idea would require approval of 60 percent of voters: a constitutional amendment to prevent property tax increases on homesteaded property if a home's value stays level or goes down. [AP photo]
  3. Sheldon crushes Thurston and will face AG Bondi

    Blog

    TALLAHASSEE — George Sheldon easily beat Perry Thurston Tuesday for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General.Sheldon's double-digit victory ensures the return of a veteran of Florida agencies and yet another proxy war on Obamacare.

    In November, he faces Republican incumbent Pam Bondi, a contest that pits the state's most vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act against Sheldon, who left the agency implementing it so he could challenge her....

  4. Sheldon handily defeats Thurston in Democratic primary for attorney general

    Elections

    TALLAHASSEE — George Sheldon easily beat Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, Tuesday for the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

    The double-digit victory by the veteran of Florida government ensures yet another proxy war on Obamacare.

    In November, Sheldon faces Republican incumbent Pam Bondi, a contest that pits the state's most vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act against Sheldon, who left the federal agency implementing it....

    George Sheldon, a veteran of Florida government, will face Republican incumbent Pam Bondi.
  5. Floridians to get $1 billion from Bank of America mortgage settlement

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The U.S. Department of Justice announced a record settlement with Bank of America on Thursday that will provide $1 billion in relief for about 17,000 Floridians affected by the mortgage crisis.

    But it's unclear who specifically will qualify or if the money ultimately will help those hurt most by the reckless conduct of Bank of America and the companies it bought, Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch....

    Associate Attorney General Tony West, at podium, accompanied by, from left, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul Fishman, Attorney General Eric Holder and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, right, speaks at the Justice Department in Washington, Thursday, to discuss an agreement with Bank of America. [AP photo]
  6. Florida set to get $1 billion from U.S. Department of Justice settlement with BOA

    Blog

    The U.S. Department of Justice announced a record settlement with Bank of America on Thursday that will provide $1 billion in relief for about 17,000 Floridians.

    But it’s still not clear which ones will qualify.

    They’ll likely be in addition to the 120,000 who were offered $9.2 billion in relief in a separate 2012 settlement with the nation’s largest banks, including Bank of America....

  7. Scott and Putnam disclose a few more details on King Ranch trips

    Elections

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam this week provided the most detail yet on his hunting trips to King Ranch in Texas, saying he did not discuss state business, such as water policy, while visiting hunting land leased by U.S. Sugar.

    However, Putnam still won't answer key questions about his trips to King Ranch, where he and other top Florida Republican elected officials have visited since U.S. Sugar leased land there in 2011....

    Adam Putnam says his last trip to the Texas ranch was in 2012.
  8. Touting prosugar bill, Southerland first U.S. congressman to confirm King Ranch trip

    Elections

    TALLAHASSEE — Standing alongside Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and representatives from business groups, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland on Monday touted federal legislation to block federal oversight of waterways and wetlands in favor of state and local government agencies.

    "If the big government bullies are successful, it will mean higher costs for doing business, more uncertainty in the workplace, and fewer jobs," the Panama City Republican said during a news conference in the state Capitol. "States and local governments are sometimes better able to manage waters within their boundaries than the D.C. bureaucrats a thousand miles away."...

    U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland confirmed that he went on a hunting trip to U.S. Sugar's lease on King Ranch. [The New York Times (2011)]
  9. With close ties to sugar, next House speaker admits King Ranch trip

    State Roundup

    To say that Steve Crisafulli is comfortable working with the sugar industry is an understatement.

    Crisafulli, who becomes the most powerful man in the Florida House of Representatives this fall, has been a major beneficiary of the state's sugar industry. During the last two election cycles, agricultural interests have contributed at least $200,000 to Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and his political action committees. U.S. Sugar contributed nearly half of that total, $94,500....

    The website for King Ranch in Texas, where U.S. Sugar built a hunting lodge, touts the animals available for hunting.
  10. Judge rules George Sheldon eligible for attorney general primary

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A Leon County circuit judge ruled Friday that George Sheldon has no residency issues that disqualify him from running for or serving as Florida attorney general.

    "I'm thinking of all the jury excuses that I hear as a judge, day in and day out, from people who work out of their home, people who work out of state, truck drivers that are out three to four months at a time," said Chief Judge Charles A. Francis. "But their home is right here. They reside right here. I think, in this case, Mr. Sheldon's residence is where he's resided in Tallahassee, except when he worked out of state. He still came back to Tallahassee and stayed at the house he owned and maintained."...

  11. Irony may be key witness in Sheldon residency trial

    Blog

    Even by the up-is-down, dogs-and-cats-living-together nature of Florida politics, George Sheldon has got to be shaking his head at the irony of today’s 1:30 p.m. hearing before Leon County Circuit Judge James Hankinson....

  12. Florida Legislature approves new congressional map

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators completed their hasty fix of a congressional redistricting map Monday, sending the plan on to Gov. Rick Scott for approval as they scramble to meet Friday's deadline set by a state court.

    In an attempt to address the concerns by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis — who said the map violated a constitutional ban on partisan gerrymandering — the Legislature ended a three-day special session by moving 368,000 voters in North and Central Florida into new districts as it changed the boundaries of seven congressional seats....

  13. Florida House and Senate give early nod to congressional map fix

    News

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida House and Senate redistricting committees gave swift approval Friday to a proposed fix to the state's flawed congressional redistricting map with a plan hatched in private by legislative leaders and staff. 

    The House Redistricting Committee voted 8-5 along party lines, while Senate Democrats joined with Republicans to vote 7-0 for the proposal that makes modest changes to seven of the state's 27 congressional districts....

    Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, left, and Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, lead the redistricting committees that have drawn up the changes to Florida’s flawed maps.
  14. Gaetz PAC money draws scorn from Okaloosa Dems and Republicans

    Blog


    It’s not often that Democrats and Republicans can agree to much of anything.

    Which is why what happened Friday at a news conference in Okaloosa County is sorta noteworthy.

    Prompted by a Northwest Florida Daily News story about Rep. Matt Gaetz’s use of PACs to influence local races, John Whitley, a state committeeman of Okaloosa County for the Florida Democratic Party, and Gaye Ellis, the chairwoman of the Okaloosa County Republican Executive Committee, reached agreement on Friday that there’s too much outside money sloshing around local races....

  15. Thurston gets help from supporters in effort to throw Sheldon off ballot

    Blog

    Florida’s Division of Elections has repeatedly said that it has no authority in establishing whether a candidate meets the qualifications of office.

    But don’t tell those angling to get Democratic Attorney General candidate George Sheldon thrown off the ballot because of a technicality. (Psssst: They also happen to be supporters of Sheldon's Democratic opponent in the Aug. 27 primary, Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale). ...

    Jessica Elliott