2018 legislative races Archives - Page 5 of 42 - Florida Politics
Ardian Zika

Ardian Zika secures HD 37 Republican nomination with ease

Three Republicans competed in the primary to succeed exiting House Speaker Richard Corcoran in Pasco County’s House District 37, and with the election in the books, Land O’ Lakes businessman Ardian Zika earned the nomination.

With 35 of 36 precincts reporting, Zika led his closest opponent, Elle Rudisill, 57-26 percent. The third Republican vying for the seat, Ryan Patrick Boney, received about 17 percent of the vote.

Zika, who immigrated to the U.S. from Kosovo in the 1990s, held a consistent lead in fundraising and in endorsements throughout his campaign to replace Corcoran, who could not run again due to term limits.

Five days ahead of the primary, Zika had raised more than $227,000 for his campaign and had more than $85,000 left to spend.

Among the many backers Republican politicians backing his bid were St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano and Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco.

His support among first responder and trade groups was also strong, with the Fraternal Order of Police, the Florida Chamber of Commerce lining up behind his bid in the three-way primary.

Rudisill, also of Land O’ Lakes, wasn’t as successful on the fundraising front — her tally barely crossed the $15,000 mark — but she did gain some nods from area Republicans, including former Clearwater Rep. Ed Hooper, Pasco Clerk Paula O’Neill, former state Rep. Ken Littlefield and former Pasco Commissioner Henry Wilson.

Boney, an Odessa Republican, entered the race at the beginning of the year and didn’t field much of a campaign. The lone action from his campaign account was fronting the ballot fee by way of a candidate contribution.

With the nomination secured, Zika now moves on to the general election, where he’ll go head-to-head against Land O’ Lakes Democrat Tammy Garcia.

Garcia, a first-time candidate who works in medical insurance billing, has raised $12,381 since opening her campaign account in January with about $5,800 in the bank on Aug. 23. Finances aside, she faces an uphill battle given HD 37’s strong Republican lean.

While there are no state House results to point to — Corcoran never faced an Election Day challenger in his four campaigns — the district cemented itself as a Republican stronghold when Donald Trump carried the it by a 61-34 percent margin on Election Day 2016.

HD 37 covers the majority of inland Pasco County, including the communities of Land O’ Lakes, Odessa, Heritage Pines, Shady Hills, Meadow Oaks and Moon Lake.

Nick DiCeglie

Nick DiCeglie cruises past Berny Jacques in HD 66 Republican primary

Belleair Bluffs businessman Nick DiCeglie defeated Seminole lawyer Berny Jacques in Tuesday’s Republican primary for House District 66.

At 7:25 p.m., DiCeglie holds a 60-40 percent lead over Jacques with more than two-thirds of the vote counted.

DiCeglie pumped $125,000 in candidate loans into his bid in the closing weeks of the primary race to surpass Jacques, who had held the fundraising lead throughout most of the race because of his head start.

The money is only one aspect of the race. Both men touted volleys of competing endorsements throughout the hotly contested campaign.

For DiCeglie, he earned the backing of state Rep. Joe Gruters, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Realtors, the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association, Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers, Pinellas County Clerk Ken Burkeand many others.

Jacques, meanwhile, earned the backing of the Florida Professional Firefighters, the Florida Fraternal Order of Police, the Seminole Professional Firefighters, retired Air Force Col. EJ Otero, Seminole City Councilmember Roger Edelman, former Pinellas County School Board Member Glen Gilzean, and Largo Commissioner and former police chief John Carroll.

Despite a strong fight from Jacques, the writing appeared to be on the wall two weeks ago, when a survey from St. Pete Polls showed DiCeglie with a 44-30 percent lead over Jacques and an even bigger lead among those who voted early.

Now that DiCeglie has secured the Republican nomination to succeed term-limited Rep. Larry Ahern, he can turn his focus toward Democratic nominee Alex Heeren, a former school teacher who went unopposed in the primary.

HD 66 covers part of Clearwater and numerous other communities, including Belleair Bluffs, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and Seminole.

The district has a Republican lean — Ahern has held the seat since it was redrawn in 2012 when he won re-election by 6 percentage points. His next two re-election bids ended in double-digit wins. President Donald Trump had similar success in 2016 when he carried the district 55-41.

Amol Jethwani

House candidate spends campaign cash on haircuts, clothes and burritos

Democratic state House candidate Amol Jethwani has been successful in getting young voters energized for down ballot races in Gainesville, a quality that hasn’t gone unnoticed by established Democratic politicians such as St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, who has endorsed his bid for House District 21.

Though he surely has a promising future in politics, the campaign finance reports for this first-time candidate show a troubling trend: Using donor money for personal expenses.

No, Jethwani isn’t paying for his car insurance or his apartment on the backs of those who support him. He has, however, dipped his hand into the kitty for things like haircuts, meals and a suit.

For those imagining the University of Florida poli sci major snagging a $1,000 suit from Brooks Brothers followed by a $400 John Edwards-style haircut and filet at Bern’s, think smaller. Much smaller. Think a $344 trip to Dillards, a $30 trim at Hair Plus and $14 lunch at Chipotle.

When it comes to the suit and haircuts, Jethwani does seem to be take a Scott Maddox-like approach to justifying the spending: It was necessary for the viability of his campaign.

“The charges to Dillards and Zara were for formal clothing for campaign events — a suit and formal wear which I was not able to afford at the time as a student. In that same category, the haircuts expensed to the account were specifically for candidate appearance for campaign events and media production,” Jethwani said in a statement to Florida Politics.

When it came to other questions about the campaign’s ledger, including the food purchases and cash withdrawals that on more than one occasion broke the state elections code regulating petty cash expenditures, Jethwani was willing to take some responsibility.

“Where the petty cash withdrawals are concerned, I accept full responsibility and acknowledge my error in judgement in not understanding the guidelines set forth by the Florida Division of Elections for withdrawing funds for petty cash,” he said. “The withdrawals were to obtain petty cash for campaign expenditures. While not reported correctly, the funds were directed for campaign use and as such I will be repaying the campaign in full for the expenses paid for with petty cash.

“The food purchases encompassed a portion of on-the-go snacks for volunteers while campaigning in addition to on-the-go meals while traveling to events,” he added. “I am taking responsibility for my actions by repaying the campaign for any flagged expenditures, I will be repaying the campaign for a portion of funds expensed on meals, and additionally, I will be repaying the campaign for our petty cash expenditures. It is my continued goal to be transparent and to display accountability.”

Jethwani is running against Jason Haeseler in the Democratic primary for HD 21, which encompasses Gilchrist and Dixie counties as well as a portion of Alachua County.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary battle will face an tough, though not impossible general election against incumbent Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons. Clemons carried the seat with 54 percent of the vote two years ago, though President Donald Trump narrowly lost the district to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Update, 9:30 p.m. — Jethwani’s apology and promise to pay back the flagged expenditures was not enough for the UF College Democrats, where Jethwani served as president. The group put out the following statement hours after Florida Politics published this post:

“In light of recent allegations, the UF College Democrats President, Amol Jethwani, has resigned from his position within College Democrats. Despite not fully knowing the severity of the situation, UFCD in no way condones the described actions, and our executive board members have taken steps to separate our organization from Amol and the claims against him,” the group said in a Facebook post.

“In the meantime, UF College Democrats will continue to work towards our goal of getting Democrats elected to office under our interim President, Kristen Jackson.”

Nick DiCeglie

Direct mail round-up: Nick DiCeglie slammed as ‘lifelong Democrat’

There’s a new hit job showing up in Pinellas County mailboxes painting House District 66 candidate Nick DiCeglie as a “lifelong Democrat” who has contributed to “pro-amnesty liberals like Charlie Crist.”

If that’s the case, the Republican Party of Pinellas County has a problem on its hands — DiCeglie is the chair.

But it’s not the case. Far from it.

DiCeglie did give to Charlie Crist, when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2010. That was long before Crist, a lifelong Republican from Pinellas County, switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party. Also of note: DiCeglie gave to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio later on in that election cycle.

All of his contributions since then have been to Republican candidates and committees: former Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Young, former Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly, the Republican Party of Florida — and those are just his federal contributions.

At the state level, he’s donated exclusively to Republican politicians: Attorney General Pam Bondi, state Rep. Kathleen Peters, former state Sen. Jack Latvala, Gov. Rick Scott and future House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Nick DiCeglie is obviously a Republican. But that’s not the only troubling thing about the mailer. It also partially “doxxes” the candidate by listing his personal cell phone number.

That’s low. Blasting that information out to the public with a mailer pushing false and inflammatory information isn’t just irresponsible, it’s a recipe for someone to get harassed and possibly physically assaulted. As anyone who has had their information put out knows, it rarely stops at phone calls.

DiCeglie is running for the seat currently held by term-limited Rep. Larry Ahern. He faces Seminole attorney Berny Jacques in the Republican primary. Heading into the final five days of the election, DiCeglie surpassed Jacques in both total fundraising and cash on hand — he had $46,605 in the bank, much of it loans, while Jacques had less than $500 in his two accounts.

It is unclear whether the mailer attacking DiCeglie was sent by the Jacques campaign as the flipside of the document was not provided to Florida Politics. Still, campaign finance reports show Jacques spent more than $18,000 on direct mail campaigns over the last couple weeks.

Recent polls show DiCeglie with a firm lead heading into the primary election. An Aug. 13 survey of likely Republican primary voters in the coastal Pinellas district showed DiCeglie with a 44-30 percent lead over Jacques. That edge expanded to 51-34 percent among the voters who said they’d already sent in their primary ballot.

The winner of Tuesday’s election will move on to face Democratic nominee Alex Heeren in November.

HD 66 covers part of Clearwater and numerous other communities, including Belleair Bluffs, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and Seminole.

The district has a Republican lean — Ahern has held the seat since it was redrawn in 2012, when he won re-election by 6 points. His next two re-election bids ended in double-digit wins, and President Donald Trump had similar success in 2016, when he carried the district 55-41.

The mailer is below. Florida Politics has edited the picture in order to not disclose DiCeglie’s cell phone number.

Anit-Nick DiCeglie mailer

Ray Blacklidge maintains fundraising edge ahead of HD 69 Republican primary

Madeira Beach attorney Ray Blacklidge raised another $13,800 between his campaign and committee over the past two weeks, building on his fundraising edge over Republican primary opponent Jeremy Bailie.

Blacklidge and Bailie are running to replace exiting Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters in Pinellas County’s House District 69. Peters announced last year that she would not seek a fourth term in the district and would instead run for a seat on the Pinellas County Commission.

The new reports, covering Aug. 11 through Aug. 23, show Blacklidge added $6,700 in hard money, including max checks from Florida Beer Wholesalers, Great Bay Distributors and the Associated Industries of Florida, among others.

The other $7,100 was collected by his political committee, Friends of Ray Blacklidge, which deposited a $5,000 check from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Political Account and a $2,000 check from Windhaven Insurance Company. The other $100 came in from Jacksonville contractor Ruben Lavarias.

Spending for the reporting period came in at more than $76,000 and included nearly $64,000 in payments to Front Line Strategies. Those payments were marked down as “campaign consulting” fees, though the Tallahassee firm provides media buying and direct mail services, which could explain large expenditures.

All told, Blacklidge has raised more than $229,000 for his campaign since he filed for the race in mid-2017 and finished the reporting period with just $7,578 left to spend — not much considering that even if he proves successful Tuesday, the seat will be hotly contested in November.

Bailie raised $2,510 in new money, including $1,000 checks from the Florida Medical Association and the Realtors Political Advocacy Committee, as well as a $500 check from JP Morgan Chase. Bailie’s bid for the seat has been endorsed by the Florida Realtors.

The meager fundraising was coupled with $21,373 in spending, including a $19,410 payment to Strategic Image Management for printing and mailing work.

As of Aug. 23, Bailie had raised a total of $80,748 for his campaign and had $13,295 left to spend during the home stretch.

Bailie made headlines not long ago for being caught on video snagging pro-Blacklidge flyers off of doors while he was out canvassing. He has since publicly apologized for the stunt.

A recent poll of the race, conducted after that incident, showed Blacklidge with a 25-point lead among likely Republican primary voters. Among the two-fifths of respondents who said they had already voted, he led by 35 percentage points.

The winner of Tuesday’s election will move on to face Democratic nominee Jennifer Webb in November.

Webb was also the Democratic nominee in the 2016 cycle but lost to Peters by 13 points on Election Day. The district has a small Republican advantage, and Webb has built a sizable war chest and earned some major endorsements for her second bid to flip the seat.

HD 69 covers part of southern Pinellas County including the coastal communities from Redington Shores southward as well as a piece of mainland Pinellas. The district has a slim Republican advantage.

Jason Pizzo

Jason Pizzo pours another $30K into campaign ahead of SD 38 primary

Miami attorney Jason Pizzo put some more of his own money down heading into the final five days before the Democratic primary for Senate District 38.

Pizzo, a former prosecutor, lent his campaign another $30,000 and added $18,179 in outside money during the reporting period covering Aug. 11 through Aug. 23, bringing his to-date fundraising total to $491,650 including $350,000 in candidate loans.

The haul included a dozen max checks from some big-name donors, including three subsidiaries of Disney and a political committee tied to labor union SEIU, while the $56,000 spending tally included $23,600 in payments to MDW Communications for direct mailers and digital ads.

As of midnight Aug. 23, Pizzo had $46,850 at the ready.

Pizzo, the second place finisher in the 2016 SD 38 Democratic primary, going for a rematch against Democratic Sen. Daphne Campbell in the Miami Dade-based district, and a recent poll of the race showed him with a 14-point lead among likely primary voters.

If Campbell were to make a come-from-behind victory on Tuesday, she’d have to do it on a shoestring budget.

She showed $11,025 in new money in her final report and has now raised $146,494 overall, all of it from donors. That may best Pizzo’s outside fundraising, but when loans are included her campaign has been working less than a third of the resources.

And for the final five days, the campaign will only have $8,382 to send Campbell back to Tallahassee or send her home, wherever home may be.

SD 38 is a Democratic stronghold that covers parts of Miami-Dade County including Miami Beach, North Miami and Bal Harbour.

Campbell and Pizzo, both Democrats, are the only candidates for the seat. The Florida Constitution allows non-party members to participate in primary races if they will decide the winner of an election, so the SD 38 election will be open to all voters, regardless of party affiliation.

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.

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.

Bill Galvano continues fundraising streak for Senate campaign arm

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano on Friday said he helped reel in more than $7.2 million over the last four months for the main political committee supporting Republican state Senate campaigns.

The finance report for the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (FRSCC) had not been uploaded to the Division of Elections public website as of Friday afternoon, but the claimed total for the pre-primary reporting period blows away the $5.17 million total FRSCC posted ahead of the 2016 primary election — and that cycle saw all 40 state Senate seats up for grabs.

The new report covers April 1 through Aug. 23.

Galvano, who represents Senate District 21, said his own political committee, Innovate Florida, had a similarly prolific run. Unlike FRSCC, a party affiliated committee, Innovate Florida is required to file finance reports more frequently.

Still, during the same April to August stretch, the political committee tacked on more than $500,000.

“We are pleased to report today the significant support we have received — not only during this reporting period, but for the entire 2018 cycle leading up to the general election,” Galvano said in a press release.

“We will continue to make sure our Republican candidates have the resources they need to win. We have an outstanding ground game, qualified and dedicated candidates, and continue to have the support we need to get their message out.”

The new report for Innovate Florida showed $175,000 in new money raised between Aug. 11 and Aug. 23. That haul was brought in across six checks:

— A $65,000 contribution from the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a public employee union;

— A $50,000 check from Floridians United for Our Children’s Future, a political committee chaired by Ryan Tyson, the VP of political operations for Associated Industries of Florida;

— $25,000 from telecom giant Charter Communications;

— $15,000 from Publix veep Hoyt Barnett;

— $15,000 from a political committee tied to the Florida Chamber of Commerce; and

— $5,000 from rail company Florida East Coast Industries (FEC).

Innovate Florida’s ledger shows about $43,000 in spending during the reporting period, including a $25,000 check to Let’s Grow Florida, one of the political committees supporting Sebring state Sen. Denise Grimsley in her statewide bid for Agriculture Commissioner.

Galvano and his likely successor as Senate President, Trilby Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson, have publicly endorsed Grimsley in the four-way Republican primary for the Cabinet seat.

Galvano’s committee had a little over $344,000 in the bank five days out from the primary election. FRSCC’s current on-hand tally is unknown, though it had nearly $2.3 million in its coffers at the end of March.

While the Innovate Florida cash came in from just a handful of donors, Galvano said that won’t be the case when the FRSCC report pops later today.

“I am also happy to report we have gained an influx of new, individual supporters who have contributed significantly to our fundraising efforts, demonstrating that support for Senate Republicans is growing and that Floridians from all corners of the state are contributing to our efforts to maintain our Republican majority in the Florida Senate,” he said.

“The combined effort of not only FRSCC and Innovate Florida, but also other fundraising activities by Senate Republicans, clearly shows a unified Republican Senate as we prepare to head into the general election.”

Still, as previously reported, finance reports from other committees reveal many of the FRSCC contributions have come in from known players. Simpson has kicked in $500,000 through his committee, Jobs for Florida, while the Florida Chamber, AIF, and the Florida Medical Association PAC have each broached six-figures.

Fleming Island Sen. Rob Bradley has also chipped in substantially through his committee, Working for Florida’s Families. He gave $375,000 to FRSCC during the April to August period, including $275,000 during July alone.

The prolific fundraising effort makes for more than $14 million raised for FRSCC since Galvano took over as the funds fundraising head last year, including another record-breaking haul in the third quarter of 2017.

The cash comes in as senate Republicans are gearing up for tough re-election fights in seven GOP-held districts, including Gainesville-based SD 8, the Tampa Bay area’s SD 18 and SD 24, as well as Lakeland-based SD 22.

Florida Democrats are also making a play for the open SD 16, where former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy is running against former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper, and SD 36, where state Rep. Manny Diaz faces a pair Democrats vying to block his ascension to the Senate.

The next finance report for FRSCC is due to the state on Nov. 2, just a few days ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.

Olysha Magruder launches political committee as questions swirl over outside ads

Gainesville Democrat Olysha Magruder opened a new political committee Thursday in the twilight hours ahead of her Senate District 8 primary battle with fellow Democrat Kayser Enneking.

The new committee, known as Protect Prepare Provide, is chaired by Magruder, with one of her SD 8 campaign staffers – Kara Jess – serving as treasurer.

Though the committee was acknowledged by the Division of Elections on Aug. 22, Magruder and Jess filed the required paperwork to get it rolling on Aug. 7.

The delay in getting the committee approved was because of the treasurer appointment form, which was marked incomplete by Division of Elections staff the day it was received.

Sarah Revell, spokeswoman for the Department of State, said the treasurer appointment was rejected because the signatures on the document were not originals, a requirement for them to be approved.

An updated treasurer form, which was ultimately approved, wasn’t received by the division until two weeks later.

The approval comes as candidates face a midnight deadline to collect their last burst of official campaign funds — state elections law requires all candidates who are opposed in a primary election to stop accepting campaign contributions for the five days preceding the primary election. Political committees do not have to comply with the five-day fundraising armistice.

Still, the Aug. 7 date sticks out.

Whitfield Jenkins, the head of an Ocala non-profit organization that has supported Magruder and bashed Enneking with up to $100,000 on direct mail campaigns and TV ads, claimed the necessary paperwork to open a political committee and send the mailers and run the ads had been filed on Aug. 7.

The committee he said he tried to start would have shared a name with his non-profit, Liberation Ocala African American Council (LOACC), or so he claims. The Division of Elections said Tuesday that it had no record of receiving any paperwork for a committee by that name.

The fact that the date Jenkins claimed to file paperwork for his political committee matches up with the date Magruder did file paperwork for hers could be a complete coincidence. Or it’s possible the delay Magruder faced in getting her committee approved could have mucked up the late primary ad push.

Political committees in Florida aren’t subject to the same contribution limits as candidate accounts — $1,000 from each unique donor in the case of state legislative races.

If Magruder’s committee got the green light on Aug. 7, the money for those ads could have been dumped in from their original source. The choice to form a committee so late in the game makes little sense otherwise, as relatively few Magruder donors have maxed out their contributions.

As previously reported, the source of the ad funds is likely not LOACC given that Washington DC ad buyer Jamie Andrus signed for the SD 8 TV ads.

Andrus is also the buyer who signed off on the ‘dark money’ attack ads plaguing Fort Lauderdale state Sen. Gary Farmer in his rematch against former state Rep. Jim Waldman in Senate District 34.

Florida Politics reached out to Magruder’s campaign multiple times Thursday, asking for the campaign to directly address whether the decision to start the new political committee was because of the campaign anticipating a late-in-the-game cash infusion for ads and mailers.

The campaign did not address that question, citing the freneticism ahead of its final pre-primary fundraising deadline.

It’s true that reports for both the campaign account and for Protect Prepare Provide are due to the state by midnight Friday, but the campaign’s reticence to answer the question follows Magruder sidestepping calls to directly disavow the illegal outside spending.

Her campaign did issue a statement saying she did not collaborate with LOACC or approve of the ads, adding that “they don’t reflect a strategy my own campaign would choose.” But she’s stopped short of disavowing them outright.

Instead, Magruder has said the ads are true — and they are, to a certain extent.

Enneking has indeed accepted “in-kind” contributions from the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which has indeed accepted contributions from the sugar, tobacco, alcohol and private prison industries as Magruder claims.

Enneking’s committee, Florida Knows Excellence, has also made many contributions to FDLCC.

But Enneking’s acceptance of those funds from the state party is no different than the financial activities of candidates who Magruder vocally supports on social media.

Tallahassee Mayor and candidate for governor Andrew Gillum, for instance, has received more than $900,000 worth of “in-kind” support from the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) during his run for Governor. FDP has in turn received contributions from the same sources Magruder rails against.

Like with Enneking and FDLCC, Gillum’s political committee, Forward Florida, has made many contributions to FDP.

It also smacks of duplicity for Magruder to attack her opponent for such contributions without showing an ounce of concern for where the money funding LOACC’s ads is coming from.

Voters will likely never know the true source of those funds, which for all anyone knows could be from the same corporate interests Magruder derides.

The primary election between Magruder and Enneking comes to an end Tuesday night. The winner of the Democratic nomination will move on to face incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry on the November ballot.

Also running for the seat is former City Commissioner Charles Goston, a lifelong Democrat who is contending as an non-party affiliated candidate.

New HD 83 TV ad says Toby Overdorf ‘just plain stinks’

A new ad attacking Republican Toby Overdorf is hitting the airwaves in the Treasure Coast’s House District 83.

The 30-second spot, titled “Toby Overdorf Stinks,” comes off like a greatest hits list of the attacks levied against Overdorf thus far in his primary battle with Port St. Lucie attorney Sasha Dadan.

“Something about Toby Overdorf just plain stinks. Overdorf, a paid lobbyist, pushed a plan to dump 40 million pounds of human waste next to the St. Lucie River. Eww,” the ad narrator says, as insects crawl across the screen.

“Then Overdorf tried to raise taxes by over $80 million while refusing to pay his own. Yuck. Then Overdorf trashed President [Donald] Trump on Twitter, calling him ‘not so Presidential.’ Gross,” the ad says. “Overdorf: Higher taxes, anti-Trump, bad for the river. Toby Overdorf just plain stinks.”

A watermark for BadBiologist.com is displayed in the bottom-right corner throughout the ad. The simple text-only web page hits Overdorf again for the biosolid lobbying, and offers a couple attacks on his environmental record — that he’s “paid by developers to remove gopher tortoises from their natural habitat” and that he “testified in favor of eliminating small wetlands in Martin County so developers could pave them over.”

The ad and website are attributed to Build Trump’s Wall, a political committee chaired by Lauren Pardo. Wednesday FCC filings indicate the committee is spending about $30,000 to run the ad on cable within the district, with another $3,500 spent by the committee for airtime on two talk radio stations in the area.

Overdorf and Dadan are competing for the Republican nomination to succeed state Rep. Gayle Harrell, who is term-limited and running for state Senate. The winner of the Aug. 28 primary election will face Jensen Beach Democrat Matt Theobald in the Nov. 6 general election.

HD 83 covers parts of Martin and St. Lucie counties and has a Republican lean. In 2016, Harrell won re-election over her Democratic challenger with 54 percent of the vote, while Trump snagged a 10-point win in the same area.

The ad is below.

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