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. 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]
  2. 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....

  3. 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.
  4. 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."...

    Rep. Steve Southerland wants states to oversee waterways.
  5. 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....

    Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, was asked a month ago about King Ranch.
  6. 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."...

  7. 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....

  8. 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....

  9. 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.
  10. 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....

  11. 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
  12. In AG race, Thurston can relate to Sheldon's residency issue

    Blog

    Who knew that the Democratic race for Attorney General would pit two candidates who have had their eligibility to hold office questioned because of residency issues?

    Since last week, all eyes have been on George Sheldon. After he learned that his Florida Bar license lapsed because he hadn’t completed and reported his continuing legal education. Sheldon signed an exemption from that rule last week that stated he had been a nonresident living in Washington D.C. from 2011 to October 2013 while working for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services....

  13. Sheldon residency issue sparks disagreement among Democrats

    Elections

    TALLAHASSEE — Questions about whether George Sheldon's residency status should disqualify him from the attorney general race have exposed a rift in the Florida Democratic Party.

    On Friday, the president of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, Henry Crespo, said Sheldon should step aside in his Aug. 26 primary race against House Democratic Leader Rep. Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale. ...

  14. Sheldon not budging, will remain in AG race

    Blog

    Questions about whether the residency status of George Sheldon should disqualify him from the Attorney General's race have exposed a rift in the Florida Democratic Party.

    On Friday, the president of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, Henry Crespo, said Sheldon should step aside in his Aug. 26 primary race against House Democratic Leader Rep. Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale. ...

  15. King Ranch Trivia: Who is Mitch Hutchcraft?

    Blog

    A month after Gov. Rick Scott took a secret hunting trip to the King Ranch in Texas last year, he faced a big decision.

    A seat had come open on the board that oversees Florida's efforts on the multibillion-dollar project to repair damage to the Everglades caused by agriculture. To fill that position, Scott picked a corporate executive named Mitchel A. "Mitch" Hutchcraft....