Three Central Florida congressional candidates top $1 million in net worths – Florida Politics

Three Central Florida congressional candidates top $1 million in net worths

The latest personal finance reports for candidates running for Congress in Central Florida find the Florida’s 7th Congressional District race includes two candidates with net worths of more than $1 million, incumbent Democrat U.S Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park and Republican challenger Scott Sturgill of Sanford.

They and Democratic former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who this year is seeking to win back his seat in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, are the only clear millionaires among the dozen candidates running in Orlando’s four congressional races, according to personal financial disclosures on file at the U.S. House of Representatives Clerk’s office.

Incumbent U.S. Reps. Val Demings and Darren Soto, both Orlando Democrats, have filed for deadline extensions and have not yet filed their financial disclosures. U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, a Rockledge Republican, has filed but his report has not yet been posted. Likewise, Republican CD 7 candidate Vennia Francois sought an extension, while Republican CD 9 candidate Wayne Liebnitzky filed a waiver, indicating he has not yet crossed the campaign finance threshold that would require a personal financial disclosure report. None of them had reported topping $1 million in minimum net worth in previous years.

Murphy, including assets and income from her husband, Winter Park businessman Sean Murphy, reported the net worth for the couple at between $2.2 million and $6.6 million.

Sturgill reported assets of between $1.6 million and $6.4 million and did not report any liabilities.

State Rep. Mike Miller, battling Sturgill and Francois for the August 28 Republican primary nomination in CD 7, covering Seminole County and north and central Orange County, reported a net worth that could be as high as $1 million, but that would assume almost all of his assets at maximum levels and liabilities at minimum levels.

Congressional financial disclosure reports require candidates and members to provide only ballpark ranges on the values of their assets and liabilities, and of earned income. The official forms offer check boxes for such ranges as $50,001-through-$100,000, $100,001-through-$250,000, etc. While sometimes the candidates volunteer more specific figures, usually their net worths can only be estimated as somewhere within broad ranges, based on those reports.

U.S. Rep. Murphy’s and husband Sean Murphy’s income last year was anywhere from $644,000 to $4.3 million, based on the ranges in the boxes she checked, and including her $174,000 salary as a member of Congress.

Much of the Murphys’ income derives from real estate development investments that appear, based on the projects’ names, to be located in the rapidly-growing northeast corridor of the San Antonio, Texas, metropolitan area. She reported at least $300,000 in income, and as much as $3 million, from those investments last year, all in her husband’s name. She also reported additional real estate development investments that appear to be in other parts of Texas and in the Waterford area of Orlando, though they’re generating far less income.

She also reported his receipt of at least $100,000 from a holding company associated with his family’s investments in the Full Sail University family of companies in Orlando.

Sturgill’s primary assets and sources of income are in his companies, the Barfield-Sturgill Ventures Inc., a holding company for his first-responders’ equipment company Durable Safety Products; and the DSP Partners LLC holding company. His assets in the former are worth between $1 million and $5 million; in the latter, $500,001 to $1 million.

Those two companies and his wife’s salary combined to provide the Sturgills with about $300,000 in income last year.

Miller’s reported assets, ranging between $318,000 and $1.3 million total, were all in various investment funds. He also reported a mortgage, a car loan, and a student loan as liabilities.

CD 7 Democratic challenger Chardo Richardson listed less than $18,000 in assets, student loans as his only liabilities, and an income of $33,750.

Grayson, who is running against Soto in the Democratic primary for CD 9, covering south Orange County, Osceola County, and east Polk County, reported a net worth that appears far lower than what had been reported in previous financial disclosures. His 2018 report shows his net worth ranging from $3.8 million to $13.9 million. Previous campaign finance reports had shown his net worth with a minimum of $13.9 million as recently as 2014.

Most of Grayson’s money was reported invested in various investment funds, including as much as $1.1 million combined in three of the Sibylline Funds that he had founded. He originally had named those funds after himself, a matter which had led to controversy during his 2016 failed run for the U.S. Senate, and which forced him to rename them after the mythological Greek profit Sibyl.

Grayson reported an income last year of between $1 million and $2 million from wife Dena Grayson’s pharmaceutical research firm MedExpert Consulting, and Velocity Daily Inv ETF.

Wade Darius, a Democrat challenging Demings in the Democratic primary in Florida’s 10th Congressional District, covering west Orange County, reported only a small balance in a 401K program as an asset, and student loans as his only liabilities.

He listed a combined income of about $190,000 from his salary with SunTrust Mortgage, earned income from his Team Darius Homes, and business income from E-Source Tax Express.

Democrat Sanjay Patel, who is running against Posey in Florida’s 8th Congressional District, covering the Space Coast and east Orange County, reported assets between $348,000 and $896,000, including investments in NetFlix and Starbucks, and money held by various investment funds. The only liability he reported was a student loan, of as much as $50,000. He reported income, derived from early distributions from his investments, of about $55,000 last year.

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.
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