With GOP ties revealed, TV stations pull Olysha Magruder ads - Florida Politics

With GOP ties revealed, TV stations pull Olysha Magruder ads

A slew of campaign mailers and TV ads pushing for Gainesville Democrat Olysha Magruder in Senate District 8 were outed as being tied to GOP operatives Thursday night, prompting TV stations in the Gainesville media market pull the pro-Magruder ads from the airwaves.

Gainesville physician Kayser Enneking, who is running against Magruder in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, had sent cease and desist letters through attorney Mark Herron on Monday seeking to get the local ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates to stop running the ads.

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The stations capitulated Friday after an article by Andrew Caplan of the Gainesville Sun demonstrated a clear connection between Leiann McInnis, the registered agent of the committee slamming Fort Lauderdale Sen. Gary Farmer in the SD 34 Democratic primary, and the “dark money” ad push in favor of Magruder.

As previously reported, the pro-Magruder TV ads were signed for by Washington DC consultant Jamie Andrus, who is also on the payroll of the anti-Farmer political committee Moms Speak Out.

The TV ads and the mailers were additionally suspect based on their attribution to an Ocala-based non-profit known as Liberation Ocala African American Council (LOACC). It is illegal for non-profits such as LOAAC to produce political ads.

Following nearly every twist in the “dark money” saga, Magruder has been opaque about her knowledge of the ads and whether she was aware of them prior to them being sent out.

Shortly after the ads started rolling out, Magruder claimed she “did not collaborate with nor give approval to have recent mailers or TV ads created.” But two sources with knowledge of her campaign say she was in contact with the man who runs LOACC, Whitfield Jenkins, as recently as last week.

After yesterday’s revelation, Magruder came closer to disavowing the ads, but still predicated her yet-to-materialize disavowal on whether Kaplan’s reporting was factual.

“If this is true, that the GOP and [incumbent Republican Sen.] Keith Perry are behind this recent ad campaign that has used my name, image, and messages, then I demand a formal apology from them and that they cease and desist tarnishing my character with their tactics,” she wrote on Facebook.

She also used the post to again slam Enneking for donations she has received that are indirectly tied to “the sugar, tobacco, and for-profit prison industries,” even though, unwittingly or not, she has likely received far more indirect support from those industries and their ilk — Jenkins estimated each direct mail run cost $13,000, and with at least eight heading out to voters over the last couple of weeks, and nearly $25,000 spent the now-pulled TV ads, the “dark money” spending behind Magruder is approaching $130,000.

Later on in her post, she said she was “glad that some local journalists still seek to discover the truth instead of relying on specious claims.”

That seeming jab at Florida Politics comes after Magruder has dodged emails, ducked phone calls and ignored twitter messages asking for her to more fully explain her relationship with Jenkins, as well as what she knew and when she knew it regarding the ads.

In a Tuesday interview with Florida Politics, Jenkins claimed knowledge of a political committee filing to support Magruder on Aug. 7 and that it had been held up by a paperwork error. Magruder attempted to start a political committee on Aug. 7 but it wasn’t acknowledged by the Florida Division of Elections until Aug. 22 due to a paperwork error, Florida Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell said Thursday.

Like Magruder, Jenkins has since stopped taking phone calls from media.

Despite the incessant mudslinging, she claims to have a “positive” campaign message. Part of that message, of course, includes facilitating the spread of lies about Enneking’s positions on certain issues important to Democratic primary voters, such as “Medicare for All.”

Magruder claims to be the only candidate in the race to support the proposal, though Enneking has consistently said she is in favor while adding a necessary disclaimer that state Senators have no say on whether it becomes a reality.

The primary election is Tuesday. The winner of the Democratic nomination will face Perry and former Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston, who is running as a non-party affiliated candidate.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

3 Comments

  1. It was never actually DARK money – and not very difficult to trace this to Republicans’ fingerprints. It was never actually meant to be well hidden.

    And what you should be looking at – is WHO CONNECTS Stafford Jones, the Ocala Group … and the Democratic Party … if you REALLY want to know what is going on in the background of this.

    And it ain’t a pretty picture of the Florida Democratic Party.

  2. You know what is oddly missing from the Sun story? The one that is convincing you this is merely a Republican operation to “divide” the Democrats to prevent “unity” so the Republican wins?

    The story that relies on the multiple steps removed former Alachua County Republican Chair Stafford Jones and his printing company to claim this was a Republican operation.

    In that story – in which the CENTRAL actor is not actually Jones (that’s more like a footnote – but he is involved – and you can link him a lot easier to the others [but these are the obvious actors – not the real ones]) – but Leiann McGinnis and her Mom’s PAC – where the $$ is DIRECTLY tied to – you would think the Sun (and a Politics Blog) would MENTION somewhere in that article HER party affiliation (which the story implies is Republican).

    But it doesn’t. Why?

    Let’s leave that question out there for a moment. And let me fill in the gap. Leiann McGinnis is a DEMOCRAT.

  3. Sorry I mis-typed above:

    the reliance n the “multiple steps removed former Alachua County Republian Chair Stafford Jones and HIS IT COMPANY … by trying to link an email address (without providing the actual email address only the domain) – based on the domain – which Stafford Jones SELLS via his business [and yes- Jones is “connected to” Lianne McInnis – in that he is “conncted to” her HUSBAND who is a Republican … but ETHICAL/QUALITY JOURNALISM can’t just make THAT LEAP and not actually state they are doing so – again Leiann IS A DEMOCRAT (not mentioned – but hardly difficult to find out – and yet CENTRAL to the story (if it is going to make the claims of this being a Republican operation).

    … the DOMAIN name – being on AN (unspecified) EMAIL ADDRESS – being on A FORM (which form – why is that not mentioned) filed with the establishment of a PRINTING COMPANY – started by McInnis.

    That is ONE HELL OF A LEAP (and a WHOLE LOT OF “missing” (or conspicuously absent) information on the way) to make a factual claim that this has been “discovered” (hardly the discovery of a Woodward and Bernstein – when the whole story has been “fed” to repeaters (the stories merely repeat what is being told them – without EVER ONCE mentioning THEIR SOURCES … again HMMMM) – who the PUSH IT (again this ain’t journalism).

    There is a real STENCH emanating from Alachua County/Gainesville … and much of it is coming right from the Alachua County Democratic Party.

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