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

  1. Hill + Knowlton hires Weatherford spokesman Ryan Duffy


    Ryan Duffy, who served as the communications director for Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford the last two years, is joining the Tallahassee public relations firm Hill + Knowlton Strategies.

    Known for his calm, self-effacing manner, Duffy, 30, will serve as vice president, the company announced Monday. Duffy has also served a press secretary for the Florida House Leadership Team under then-House Speaker Dean Cannon. He also served as spokesman for Bill McCollum's gubernatorial campaign in 2010. From 2007 to 2010 he served as speechwriter for U.S. Senators Mel Martinez and George LeMieux. He started his career as speechwriter to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush....

  2. The Money Race: Crist gains ground, but gap with Scott remains


    Heading into the final month of Florida’s gubernatorial race, Charlie Crist gained a wee bit of ground in campaign contributions on Gov. Rick Scott with the help of his political action committee.

    During the latest round of campaign finance reporting, which covers Sept. 13 to Sept. 19, “Charlie Crist for Governor”, raised $2.3 million. That's more than the $84,461 that Scott’s committee, “Let’s Get to Work”, managed to raise during the same period....

  3. Florida LGBT leaders push for marital equality four years after gay adoption became legal


    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's ban on adoption by same-sex couples stood for 33 years before the 3rd District Court of Appeal overturned it as unconstitutional four years ago.

    But rather than celebrate that anniversary, gay rights groups Monday called for the same recognition of same-sex marriage in dual news conferences in Tallahassee and Miami. Despite a recent spate of court rulings overturning the ban on same-sex marriage, Attorney General Pam Bondi, with Gov. Rick Scott's support, has filed appeals upholding the ban....

  4. Rivera seeks, denied, delay in ethics case


    Faced with the exodus of his legal team, David Rivera tried to delay a Florida Commission on Ethics case that found he violated the state's rules for elected officials.

    But on Friday, when told of his latest maneuver in a two-year-old case, the Commission unanimously rejected further delay, recommending instead that administrative law judge David Watkins determine penalties for the violations by Rivera, who appeared late at the hearing and missed the discussion on his case....

  5. State economic report casts doubt on feasibility of Scott's tax cut plan

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Since late August, Gov. Rick Scott's promise to slash taxes and fees by $1 billion over the next two years has been the backdrop for his re-election campaign, fueling a two-week tour through Florida.

    But while Scott's campaign to promote the plan took him to the Panhandle town of Milton on Wednesday, the focus on whether it could actually work shifted 178 miles east to the Capitol, where lawmakers discussed the state's financial outlook....

  6. Republican state lawmakers gone fishin'


    Fishing3Being a Florida Republican state lawmaker can sure be fun....

  7. Bay News 9 October debate set for Bondi and Sheldon, but is that it?


    SheldonIt’s been three weeks since the Democratic nominee for Florida Attorney General, George Sheldon, proposed five debates with Republican incumbent Pam Bondi....

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


    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."...

  9. 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]
  10. Sheldon crushes Thurston and will face AG Bondi


    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....

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


    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.
  12. 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]
  13. Florida set to get $1 billion from U.S. Department of Justice settlement with BOA


    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....

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


    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.
  15. Touting prosugar bill, Southerland first U.S. congressman to confirm King Ranch trip


    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."...

    Rep. Steve Southerland wants states to oversee waterways.