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HD 17 Republican Cyndi Stevenson raises $11K in May

House District 17 incumbent Cyndi Stevenson faces no electoral challenges in her solidly Republican St. Johns County district, so fundraising is not as high priority as it might be for other candidates.

Despite this, Stevenson continues to bring in respectable monthly tallies, and May was no exception.

New money totaling $11,491 brings Stevenson’s total raised up to $89,078 after May’s tally. She has just over $65,000 on hand for her re-election bid.

Stevenson’s money in May largely came from Ponte Vedra Beach and Jacksonville, with stalwarts of the donor class, such as Ed Burr and his Greenpointe Holdings and the Rummell Company all showing up in the donor column.

Stevenson spent $2,616 in May, the bulk of it with Front Line Strategies for routine campaign expenses.

Rob Bradley political committee, campaign account combine for $83K May

Northeast Florida State Sen. Rob Bradley had a strong month of fundraising in May, totaling $83,000 between his political committee and his campaign account.

Bradley’s Senate District 7 includes Clay, Alachua, and Bradford counties. He faces no opposition in the 2016 election.

The real action was on the political committee side, where “Working for Florida’s Families” raised $76,000, the bulk of it from three donors.

The “Florida Jobs PAC,” an adjunct of the Florida Chamber, donated $30,000 to Bradley’s PAC. Disney Worldwide Services ponied up $25,000. And Fidelity National Financial gave Bradley’s PAC $10,000.

Bradley’s PAC, in total, has raised $549,525 and has just over $334,000 cash on hand.

Bradley’s campaign account raised $7,500 in new money in May, $5,500 coming from the insurance industry to Bradley, chair of the Regulated Industries Committee.

In May, Bradley spent $15,712,69, the bulk of it on direct mail and advertising.

Bradley has raised a total of $476,256 for his campaign account, and has just over $348,000 cash on hand.

Charles Cofer: Matt Shirk is using public employees for campaign purposes

The 4th Circuit Public Defender race, encompassing Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties, is heating up, as challenger Charles Cofer charges incumbent Matt Shirk is using state-paid public employees of the Office of Public Defender for his campaign.

“It is clear that Mr. Shirk has found it difficult to raise funds to support his campaign,” Cofer said. “It is also clear that his solution to this problem is to have taxpayers finance his campaign indirectly through his Public Defender’s Office budget. This is clearly illegal and unethical.”

At issue: Shirk’s “public relations employee,” Sam Shiver. A GOP political consultant, Shiver operates the campaign consulting firm S.O.S. Consulting while drawing $73,000 a year from the public payroll.

The press release from the Cofer campaign asserts S.O.S. Consulting contributed $500 to Shirk’s re-election campaign. Shiver commonly attends political functions with Shirk during working hours, claims Cofer.

“The only role that a public relations employee can have at the Public Defender’s Office is to try and restore Mr. Shirk’s tarnished reputation within the community,” Cofer said. “The most appalling aspect of this sham is the dishonest manner in which Mr. Shirk has chosen to use public money to help pay obvious campaign expenses, like the salary of his political consultant.”

Shiver’s firm is not being paid out of the campaign account for campaign work, said Cofer, who added that Shiver is being overpaid “in order to receive kickbacks” to Shirk’s campaign account.

“This is an obvious illegal diversion of taxpayer funds.” Cofer said. “I call on Mr. Shirk to immediately discontinue this illegal and unethical practice.”

Shirk’s Campaign Manager Peret Pass refutes the claims.

“For someone who is so confident that our campaign is struggling, all Mr. Cofer seems to be able to do is talk about what he thinks we are doing. This is yet another attempt by our opposition to try to mislead the voters by spreading inaccurate information about our campaign,” Pass wrote.

“If you check our campaign expenditures, you will see Pass Consulting Group is the only consulting entity being paid. Mr. Shiver is in no way involved in our re-election effort. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. We are proud of our accomplishments in office and are confident in the voters and their ability to see through the nonsense from our opposition.”

Endorsement roundup: Matt Hudson, Beth Tuura, Bob Rommel pick up support

A trio of candidates picked up significant endorsements Wednesday morning: state Rep. Matt Hudson for Senate District 28, Beth Tuura in House District 47 and Bob Rommel for House District 106.

Endorsing Hudson is the Collier County Republican Executive Committee, which announced its support of the state representative after a meeting Tuesday night.

With 66 of the 83 votes cast, as reported by the Naples Daily News, the committee recommended Hudson as the best candidate to represent SD 28, which includes Collier, Hendry and part of Lee counties. State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo also received 51 votes.

“Thank you to the Collier County Republican Executive Committee for endorsing me as the best candidate to represent our Southwest Florida community,” Hudson said in a statement. “I am humbled to receive the support of our local grassroots organization, and I look forward to continuing to campaign on a platform that advocates for lowering taxes for Florida families and businesses, cutting government spending and implementing a balanced budget for the State of Florida.”

Hudson has served in the House since 2007, currently in HD 80, which includes portions of Collier and Hendry counties. He was named speaker pro tempore in 2014.

Hudson’s platform includes lowering taxes for families and businesses, cutting government spending and implementing a balanced budget for the State of Florida.,

In HD 47, former state Rep. Linda Stewart is endorsing Tuura to replace her in the central Florida seat that includes Downtown Orlando, Thornton Park, Baldwin Park and Belle Isle.

“Her social and business experiences will make her a great voice for women and working families in Central Florida,” Stewart, who served in HD 47 from 2012-14, said in a statement Wednesday. She is currently running for state Senate District 13.

Stewart has been a longtime activist in the district, both as a County Commissioner and in Tallahassee, fighting for equality, women’s rights and working families. Tuura has vowed to continue Stewart’s efforts on issues such as fair wages, expanding access to health care, and strengthening public education.

“I have had the pleasure of working alongside Representative Linda Stewart in the past and I am honored to have her endorsement,” Tuura said. “I will fight to win back District 47 and bring my business and leadership skills to Tallahassee to get Florida back on track.”

Tuura, who has lived in Florida since 2000, is a three-time National Sports Emmy Award-winning television professional. In 2014, she was inducted into the Murrow Alumni Hall of Achievement at her alma mater, Washington State University. Tuura is married and lives in Orlando.

Rommel picked up the endorsement of former State Rep. Tom Grady of Naples in the race for House District 106.

Elected in 2008, Grady represents House District 76, which due to redistricting is now District 106.

“Bob Rommel is a committed conservative, and I am proud to support him,” said Grady. “He understands that smaller government and more freedom aren’t just good principles, but the path to greater prosperity. I know we can count on him to fight for those values in Tallahassee.”

After serving a single term the House from 2008-10, Grady, an attorney, was selected to lead the Office of Financial Regulation in 2011 and as Interim President of Citizens Property Insurance in 2012. Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to the state Board of Education earlier this year.

“I’m so pleased to have Tom Grady’s support,” said Rommel. “I look forward to working with him and other great public servants from our area to enact sound state policies that will continue to move our economy forward and create more jobs and opportunity.”

Melissa Nelson fundraiser set for Atlantic Beach

The fundraising continues apace for 4th Circuit State Attorney candidate Melissa Nelson.

A cluster of North Florida heavyweights is hosting a reception for Nelson in Atlantic Beach June 23 (and encouraging contributions of up to $1,000).

Acosta’s Gary Chartrand and his family, JAX Chamber chief Audrey Moran, and former U.S. Attorney Paul Perez are some of the boldfaced names on her host committee.

Nelson’s “First Coast Values” PAC brought in a six-figure haul in its first month of fundraising. However, incumbent State Attorney Angela Corey has more than $200,000 on hand.

A third candidate, Wes White, like Nelson a former State Attorney employee, has raised just over $31,000.

Meanwhile, there’s been a new wrinkle in the lawsuit over the race’s closed primary.

Circuit Judge has James Daniel stepped down from the case after accusations of bias.

Write-in candidate Kenny Leigh is also on the ballot. Leigh filed a motion last week asking Daniel to recuse himself for comments he made about Leigh’s candidacy. Senior Circuit Judge Richard Townsend will now decide on the lawsuit challenging the closed primary.

Leigh and the former campaign manager for Corey, Alexander Pantinakis (who has since resigned) have been sued over their roles in closing the election to everyone but registered Republicans in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties. Leigh’s filing as a write-in closed the Aug. 30 primary to Democrats and independents.



Beth Tuura gets blessing of Linda Stewart in HD 47 race

The last Democrat to hold the seat in Orlando-based House District 47, Linda Stewart, has endorsed Beth Tuura among three Democrats running for the seat this year, Tuura’s campaign announced Wednesday.

Stewart, a longtime activist and former county commissioner who is running for the Florida Senate this year, picked Tuura over Democrats Henry Lim and Clint Curtis. The trio want a shot at incumbent Republican state Rep. Mike Miller of Orlando, who ousted Stewart in the 2014 election.

“I am pleased to endorse Beth Tuura in her race in district 47,” Stewart stated in the release. “Her social and business experiences will make her a great voice for women and working families in Central Florida.”

Tuura said she seeks to continue Stewart’s legacy of fighting for issues such as fair wages, expanding access to healthcare, and strengthening our public education system.

“I have had the pleasure of working alongside Representative Linda Stewart in the past and I am honored to have her endorsement,” Tuura said. “I will fight to win back District 47 and bring my business and leadership skills to Tallahassee to get Florida back on track.”

Six candidates submit petitions appearing to reach qualifying threshold in Central Florida senate races

The first three days of pre-qualifying for state Senate races in Central Florida show four of the 10 declared candidates in three races fell short of submitting enough valid signatures for the ballot by petition.

So far, only an Aug. 30 Democratic primary in Senate District 11 would be assured, based on those candidates who appear to have enough verified signatures.

The Florida Department of State will not officially start qualifying candidates until next week. Those who do not qualify by petition may pay filing fees of $1,781.

In SD 11 covering west Orange County, two Orlando Democrats, former state Rep. Bob Sidler and former state Sen. Gary Siplin, each turned in more than the 1,552 required valid petitions signatures to qualify. Late Wednesday, Chuck O’Neal also crossed the threshold.

But Democratic primary opponent state Rep. Randolph Bracy Bracy, of Oakland, turned in 264 on Monday, while O’Neal fell just short, turning in 1,544.

There are no Republicans running in the heavily Democratic district.

In SD 13 in north-central and northeast Orange, Republican Dean Asher and Democrat Rick Roach, both of Orlando, appeared to have cleared the petition threshold.

Democratic former state Rep. Linda Stewart of Orlando turned in only 1,154 verified signatures, and former state Rep. Mike Clelland of Longwood has not yet turned in anything.

In SD 15 in south Orange and north Osceola County, Democratic state Rep. Victor Torres of Orlando turned in enough valid petitions, but Democrat Bob Healy of Kissimmee is short, with just 645 so far. Republican Peter Vivaldi of Windermere has not yet turned in anything.

All three districts are represented by senators not seeking re-election. In SD 11, Democratic state Sen. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando is running for Congress, as is Democratic state Sen. Darren Soto of SD 15. In SD 13, Republican state Sen. President Andy Gardiner is term-limited out of office.

Dane Eagle posts $37K in May fundraising in HD 77

Rep. Dane Eagle does not currently face an opponent in his House District 77 re-election bid, but the Cape Coral Republican isn’t taking any chances.

The second-term lawmaker brought in $37,575 from more than 50 contributions during May, according to newly released campaign finance data.

Those included 18 contributions of $1,000, the legal maximum for state legislative campaigns.

Among those were checks from Rep. Dana Young‘s political committee, his own “Conservative Coalition for Florida’s Future” committee, Koch Industries, and the law and lobbying firm Becker & Poliakoff.

The haul brings Eagle’s fundraising totals to $113,461 for the 2016 cycle, with nearly $38,000 of that remaining on hand.

The May fundraising activity marks Eagle’s first contributions since January, before the 2016 Legislative Session. Legislators are prohibited from accepting donations during the annual lawmaking period.

Eagle announced his campaign kickoff last month with a fundraiser in Cape Coral co-hosted by Gary Aubuchon, a former state representative and the president of Aubuchon Homes; Brian Rist, the president and CEO of The Smart Companies; Michel Doherty, a prominent Lee County political supporter and Lee County Tax Collector Larry Hart.

Democrat Graham Madison Morris had originally planned to challenge Eagle but has since exited the race, giving Eagle a clear path to re-election in the conservative-leaning HD 77.

Ken Keechl tops George Moraitis in May fundraising, still trails in HD 93

Democrat Ken Keechl still has a long way to go to close the fundraising gap with incumbent Republican Rep. George Moraitis in House District 93, but May did see Keechl cut into his lead.

Keechl brought in $17,247 during the May reporting period according to new campaign finance data, bringing his overall total to $38,445 overall. Nearly all of that sum remained on hand through May 31.

Moraitis, for his part, raised $8,075 in May for a total of $101,423 overall for the cycle. Of that, Moraitis’ campaign account boasted nearly $65,000 on hand.

Keechl, an attorney from Wilton Manors, is seeking to prevent Pompano Beach’s Moraitis from finishing out his fourth and final term in moderate, coastal HD 93.

A former Broward County commissioner and mayor, Keechl unsuccessfully sought office in the last three election cycles after ousting an incumbent to win a seat on the commission in 2006.

Though Moraitis has cut a moderate profile and established himself as a fighter for local priorities like beach renourishment and quality-of-life issues, national politics could well overdetermine this contest.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney narrowly won HD 93 in 2012, but based on HD 93’s relatively affluent, white make-up compared to most Democratic districts, Hillary Clinton will likely outperform President Barack Obama in November.

Jacksonville resolves CDBG environmental documentation issues, repaid $160K

In good news from HUD, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry received written notice that monitoring issues from previous mayoral administrations’ reports in 2014 and 2015 had been resolved for Community Development Block Grants and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

Four problems in total have been resolved. But here’s the bad news from HUD: one of them cost the city $160,625.

The $127,000 problem: the city failed to complete compliance reviews for activities related to CDBG, HOME, and Neighborhood Stabilization Program Grants.

This required repayment of $160,625 for demolition of 13 properties, which incorrectly was paid with HUD funds. With $33,739 paid as the result of a previous monitoring visit, the balance of $126,886 had to be paid … and was.

The other issues lacked hard costs:

The first: environmental review records lacked adequate documentation to demonstrate compliance. A variety of forms were used, and project descriptions were inadequate.

Staff members, as mandated, were trained appropriately, and policies have been revised to meet HUD’s standards.

The second issue involved using an incorrect form to submit its reports, failing to “adequately” aggregate its projects, and incorrectly completing environmental assessments for individual sites instead of projects.

This issue with environmental assessments has been resolved.

The final issue: inadequate documentation of compliance with Acceptable Separation Distance guidelines set up by HUD, relative to properties within a mile of a “thermal or explosive hazard.”

As required, the city confirmed that above-ground storage tanks adjacent to the Norwood neighborhood contained neither thermal nor explosive leaks or gas.

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