Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 3 of 57

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

Florida adds 18,100 private-sector jobs in July, ADP survey shows

Florida added 18,100 private sector jobs last month according to new employment data released by payroll company ADP.

July’s ADP Regional Employment Report showed the most of the new jobs heading to the service industry, which saw a gain of 16,500 jobs, including 2,300 new positions in the trade, transportation and utilities sector and 5,300 in the professional and business services industry.

The massive service industry gains were coupled with modest job growth in manufacturing, which added 700 jobs last month, as well as mining and construction jobs, which produced 1,000 new jobs.

The July report showed more new positions than June, when Florida added 13,500 jobs, and are a slight improvement over July 2016, when Florida businesses added 16,400 jobs.

The Sunshine State’s total was good enough for second place among the individual states tracked in the report. Texas took the top spot with a gain of 22,200 new private-sector jobs, with fellow large states California and New York coming in at 14,700 jobs and 6,000 jobs, respectively.

Illinois typically lags behind the four most populous states in job growth, but managed to take the No. 4 spot with 6,800 new jobs added last month.

The South, which includes Florida, Texas and 14 other states, was once again the top region in the report with 84,000 new positions. Western states added 38,000, followed by the Midwest with 36,000 and the Northeast with 19,000.

The Regional Employment Report is produced by ADP and Moody’s Analytics and is based on data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as ADP’s in-house payroll data. The next report is scheduled for release Sept. 7.

John Dicks won’t run in HD 58 special election

Another state House election is likely to go without a credible candidate from the Democratic Party.

Former Plant City Mayor John Dicks said he won’t enter the race to replace Republican Rep. Dan Raulerson, who is resigning his seat effective Aug. 15, and so far no big names have shown excitement at the opportunity to run in the Hillsborough County seat.

“I consider public service to be both a calling and commitment and have been honored with the encouragement and support from so many. However, we have, right now, too many things going on in our lives (business, personal and family) to disrupt them for an unexpected and quick campaign,” Dicks said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times.

The special election currently has two Republican candidates, Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure, both of whom say they will qualify for the ballot via petition signatures.

The lone Democrat in the race, Jose Vasquez, is a perennial candidate who was trampled by Raulerson last year, and even attempted – unsuccessfully – to challenge the election in circuit court claiming Raulerson’s candidacy was invalid because his notary had used “correction fluid” on his filing paperwork.

Vasquez is the only Democrat to appear on the general election ballot since the district was drawn in 2012, and even he isn’t that committed to HD 58, which despite a GOP-lean has a few thousand more registered Democrats than Republicans.

After signing up to run, he said that he’s planning to move to term-limited Rep. Janet Cruz’s district for a 2018 campaign whether or not he wins the HD 58 special election.

The qualifying period for the race ends Aug. 16 at noon.

Jeff Clemens adds $65K in committee cash

Lake Worth Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens raised an even $65,000 for his political committee last month, giving him the best month among Senate Democrats who have already submitted their July reports.

Clemens, set to be Senate Minority Leader after the 2018 elections, brought in the money through just six contributions. The committee also managed to spend nothing in July, ending the month with a little over $117,000 on hand.

Florida Power & Light and ABC Fine Wine and Spirits shared the top donor spot, with each group writing a $15,000 check to Clemens’ committee.

Another $25,000 came in from law firms, including $10,000 a piece from Coral Gables-based Haggard Law Firm and West Palm Beach-based Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, while Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA forked over $5,000.

The remaining $10,000 was split down the middle between the Kissimmee Medical & Wellness Center and the Realtors PAC.

Coming in just behind Clemens last month is freshman Democratic Sen. Lauren Book, who raised a combined $63,250 between her campaign and committee, “Leadership for Broward.” Her committee ended July with $983,000 on hand and her campaign account finished the month with $158,000.

The SD 32 Democrat is currently unopposed in her 2018 re-election bid.

Her largest contribution for the reporting period was from Florida Power & Light, which gave $10,000. Another five donors clocked in at the $5,000 level, including the Florida Public Health Fund, Pooches of Pines Inc. and the Bellpower PAC, a political committee associated with FPL Government Affairs VP John Holley.

Wilton Simpson’s political committee raises nearly $375K in July

Trilby Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson just posted his best fundraising report since February, with $371,500 added to his “Jobs for Florida” political committee.

The Senate Majority Leader’s massive haul came in across 35 contributions, including eight for $25,000. The lucrative month left Simpson, the presumed Senate President for 2020-22, with more than $1.5 million on hand in his committee account.

Simpson also has about $260,000 on hand for his Senate District 10 re-election campaign, though he only raised about $3,000 in July.

Major donors last month included U.S. Sugar Corp., which gave two contributions totalling $40,000, while Florida Power & Light, Sunz Insurance Solutions, ADG Acquisition Holdings, Florida Transportation Builders Association PAC, and Miami Beach’s Fontainbleau Resort each gave $25,000.

June Simpson, a Thonotosassa resident and wife of pharmaceutical billionaire Tom Simpson, also gave $25,000 and was the lone individual to contribute to Jobs for Florida last month.

Simpson also spent about $81,000 in committee money and $16,000 in campaign money last month, with the majority of it heading to Tallahassee-based Meteoric Media Strategies.

The company is tied to former Republican Party of Florida Deputy Executive Director Brian Hughes and took in more than $51,000 from Simpson last month, including $16,000 for graphic design work and $35,100 for consulting.

Capital Finance Consulting, tied to Republican fundraiser Kris Money, was the other main drain, with Simpsons committee cutting checks to the Tallahassee shop totaling $38,000 last month.

Simpson is currently unopposed for re-election next year in SD 10, which includes Citrus, Hernando and part of Pasco counties.

Adam Putnam and Jack Latvala to speak at Florida GOP meeting

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala are both set to speak at the Republican Party of Florida’s Quarterly and Executive Board Meeting this weekend.

The Friday and Saturday event at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando will feature a handful of appearances open to the press, including a “Dessert with Sen. Jack Latvala” Friday at 9 p.m. and an “Up & Adam Breakfast” with Putnam Saturday at 8 a.m.

Putnam’s event will be followed up by a talk from Fox News contributor Stephen Moore, with the RPOF Executive Board set to meet from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Putnam is currently the only major Republican candidate running to be Florida governor, though Latvala could join him in the race as soon as next week. The Pinellas County Republican is set to announce his 2018 plans on Aug. 16 at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Both men have millions socked away in their political committees. Putnam ended July with $11.6 million on hand between his campaign and committee, “Florida Grown,” while Latvala had $3.84 million on hand for his committee, “Florida Leadership Committee.”

A couple more big name Republicans are also mulling a run, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran whose committee neared $3 million in total fundraising last month. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is also considering a run.

Jeremy Ring raised $45K in July for CFO bid, spent $60K

Former state Sen. Jeremy Ring headed into August with about $130,000 on hand after spending more than he raised in July for his Chief Financial Officer bid.

The Margate Democrat brought in a total of $45,396 between his campaign account and his political committee, “Florida Action Fund PC.” Combined, the two entities spent $60,515, including a $20,000 payment to the Florida Democratic Party.

Among the other $40,000 in spending was more than $10,000 in payments to D.C.-based MDW Communications for a website, $4,800 to NGP VAN, Inc., based in Washington, D.C. and Somerville, Massachusetts, for IT work and a slew of $1,000-plus payments to various consulting groups across the Sunshine State.

Contributions to the committee included $10,000 from the Firefighter FactPAC, $5,000 from the Pelican Bay political committee in Naples and $2,500 from the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters. The campaign account took in $26,000 in July across 38 contributions, including $3,000 a piece from Robert Greenberg, Eric Becker, Adam Stein, James Stork and Nadezda Usina.

Ring is currently the only declared candidate for Florida CFO, is now held by Republican Jimmy Patronis, who was appointed to the position after Jeff Atwater left the job earlier this year to become the CFO of Florida Atlantic University.

Patronis, a former lawmaker himself, hasn’t said whether he would run for CFO, but several of his former colleagues in the Legislature have hinted they might take a stab at the Cabinet seat in 2018.

Possible Republican entrants include state Sen. Tom Lee and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

A couple of Democrats have been floated as candidates as well, including former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Chris King political committee brings in $154K in July

Winter Park businessman Chris King will report $154,000 in contributions to his gubernatorial run in July, the campaign tells FloridaPolitics.com 

King’s haul makes for nearly $2.4 million raised since he entered the race in April, and his operation said he has $1.7 million of that total on hand between his campaign account and his political committee, “Rise and Lead, Florida.”

“We’re gratified that despite being a political newcomer, Chris’s fresh vision and plans for a better day for Florida is drawing continued support,” said Omar Khan, senior adviser to the King campaign.

Khan also asserted that Democrats’ chances at taking back the governor’s mansion in 2018 hinge on the economy, adding that “Chris is the best candidate on either side to win that debate.”

“We’re excited that people are consistently and powerfully responding to Chris’s fresh ideas to build an economy that will produce better days ahead for Florida,” said King’s Finance Director, Stephanie McClung.

King is running in the Democratic Primary for governor with his major competition being former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

So far, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is the only major GOP candidate to enter the race, though he could be joined by Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala as soon as next week. 

Both Republicans have millions on hand in their political committees.

King currently has more in the bank than Gillum, who had raised a total of $1.3 million between his campaign and “Forward Florida” committee through the end of June, though Graham is still firmly in the lead among declared Democrats with more than $3 million in total fundraising through the end of July.

Unofficial reports for Forward Florida on the committee’s website show just one contribution for $10,000 in July. Gillum has yet to report his July fundraising numbers for his campaign account. Graham’s campaign announced Sunday that she had brought in another $350,000 between her two accounts last month.

Andrew Gillum campaign spends $25,000 on legal fees, mostly for email investigation

Tallahassee’s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum has spent almost $25,000 so far on attorneys during his gubernatorial campaign, mostly due to his use of state-owned email software for campaign-related messages.

Law firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler got about $2,100 of that money from the Gillum campaign, with the remaining money being paid out through his political committee, “Florida Forward.”

The most recent payment was a $1,015 check from Florida Forward on July 28.

Gillum’s spending on legal fees was first written about by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida.

Campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan said the high legal fees were linked to Gillum’s use of state software purchased through the Tallahassee mayor’s office to send political emails. Since the improper use was outed earlier this year, Gillum has apologized and paid back the city for the software.

State Attorney Jack Campbell has not yet decided whether he will criminally charge Gillum for the software malfeasance.

Burgan also made clear that none of the fees paid out by Gillum’s campaign account or political committee were linked to an ongoing public corruption investigation the FBI is conducting on several Tallahassee business and political leaders.

The FBI is looking into several big-name developers and consultants connected to a Community Redevelopment Agency. In June, the Bureau subpoenaed several individuals, but Gillum’s name was not on the list.

Gillum’s attorney fees come in much higher than either of his Democratic rivals, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Winter Park Businessman Chris King, each of whom spent roughly $15,000 on attorney fees since entering the race.

Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam, the lone major Republican candidate in the race, has spent about $9,000 on attorney fees this campaign cycle.

Donald Trump taps Florida donor as next ambassador to Spain

President Donald Trump has nominated a major campaign donor from Palm Beach County as the next U.S. Ambassador to Spain, the White House announced.

Duke Buchan is a founder of private investment and management firm Hunter Global Investors. During Trump’s campaign for the White House, he and his wife Hannah Buchan gave nearly $900,000 to Trump’s joint fundraising committee with the RNC.

Buchan backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the Republican primary before throwing his support behind Trump.

The press release announcing Buchan’s hire notes that he is an alumnus of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he earned degrees in Spanish and business.

In addition to being appointed as U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Buchan will also serve concurrently as the U.S. Ambassador to Andorra. The White House said Buchan has a “working knowledge” of Catalan, the primary language of the landlocked microstate between France and Spain.

In 2011, the businessman founded the Buchan Excellence Fund, which supports UNC faculty, graduate students and undergraduates in Spanish languages, literature and culture.

The fund sponsors research into Spanish culture and linguistics and also provides opportunities for faculty and students to travel to Spain.

A majority of the U.S. Senate must vote to confirm ambassadors.

Report: Pro-Marco Rubio nonprofit primarily funded by two anonymous megadonors

A nonprofit organization that raised $22 million for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s failed presidential bid could be a two-man show that went a little too heavy on its support for the Florida Republican’s campaign, according to a report on Open Secrets Blog.

Conservative Solutions Project, a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization, brought in over 90 percent of its funds from one or possibly two anonymous donors according to tax documents obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Of the $22 million raised, $20.5 million came in through two anonymous donations, one for $13.5 million in 2014 and another for $7 million in 2015. Social welfare organizations aren’t required to disclose donor information, so it is unclear whether the two multimillion dollar contributions came from the same source.

The bulk of the money raised was spent on ads and campaign research to boost Rubio’s presidential bid, and it appears that little if any money was doled out for activities that could be deemed “social welfare.”

The nomenclature of “Conservative Solutions Project” is also strikingly similar to Rubio’s own political committee, “Conservative Solutions PAC,” and the web only gets more tangled from there.

Both CSPs, along with the Rubio campaign and the Rubio Victory Joint Fundraising Committee passed money around to largely the same people during the course of the Florida Republican’s presidential campaign.

Team Rubio didn’t deny the close relationship between the two groups when asked about it in 2015.

“Absolutely, the two groups are related,” said Jeff Sadosky in an interview with National Journal. “But they are separate and distinct entities. One is focused on supporting Marco Rubio’s potential presidential campaign, and one is focused on issue education.”

Sadosky’s “issue education” frame may be a little misleading, though, since the bulk of the ads run by the social welfare group were shining a spotlight on Rubio’s positions on taxes and national security. And since the ads were more than 60 days before an election, none of them had to be reported to the FEC.

That also runs afoul of nonprofit rules, which outlaw groups that primarily benefit one person. The IRS rarely pursues such cases, but if they did a former head of the IRS exempt organizations division said investigators “would probably say there’s an overwhelming private benefit to its activities” as well as possible campaign intervention “depending on if the messages got close to ‘vote for’ or ‘vote against’” in substance.


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