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Daphne Campbell campaign apologizes for mistaken endorsement

In response to reporting from Florida Politics on Thursday, the Daphne Campbell campaign has issued a formal apology for falsely claiming the endorsement of Aventura City Commissioner Robert Shelley.

Shelley endorsed Jason Pizzo, Campbell’s Democratic primary opponent in Senate District 38. Yet Shelley’s face remains on a campaign flyer being sent out by the Campbell campaign touting several different endorsements of her re-election bid.

It is against Florida election law to falsely claim an endorsement from someone without signed documentation. Violators can face civil penalties.

In a letter addressed to Commissioner Shelley, obtained by Florida Politics, Campbell campaign manager Maxo Sinal apologizes for the erroneous claim and explains how Shelley’s face ended up on that flyer.

Sen. Campbell “is deeply sorry for an incident that involves your name and your picture,” Sinal says.

“A file that included all of our endorsements was given to campaign staff to prepare an endorsement list since our communications director has left the campaign to go back to school. Unfortunately, the staff didn’t recognize that you removed yourself from endorsing Sen. Campbell, and gave your name to our graphic designer to prepare literature for the campaign.”

That reference to Shelley removing his endorsement of Senator Campbell refers to reporting from early July, where Shelley’s office appeared to send out signed endorsement letters to both the Campbell and Pizzo campaigns.

At the time, Shelley clarified the issue by noting he was backing Pizzo, and the letter to Campbell was sent in error. “By the time we uncovered the mistake, it was already distributed,” says Sinal of the flyer.

“Sen. Campbell respects everyone’s choice to support her, or her opponent. This incident doesn’t reflect our campaign values. On behalf of Sen. Daphne Campbell, I present to you my sincere apology and I have already implemented steps to avoid such a mistake.”

Shelley had requested a formal apology in response to the news his image was still being used by the Campbell campaign. In comments to Florida Politics, he says he is “glad they acknowledged the mistake” and accepts the campaign’s apology. Shelley is currently running for re-election to the Aventura City Commission.

Daphne Campbell continues to claim nonexistent endorsement from Aventura pol

(Update: Daphne Campbell has issued a formal apology for the incident, a portion of which has been added to this piece. You can read the full apology here.)

State Sen. Daphne Campbell appears to be openly flouting Florida election law by once again claiming an endorsement from an Aventura City Commissioner who has endorsed her opponent, Jason Pizzo.

Campbell lists Commissioner Robert Shelley (whose name is misspelled in her materials) on a campaign flyer issued to voters in Senate District 38. You can see his face among a list of others who have endorsed Campbell’s campaign.

The problem is: he’s backing her opponent in the SD 38 Democratic primary. And this isn’t the first time Campbell has made this claim.

On July 3, Florida Politics published a piece detailing what appeared to be a mistake by Commissioner Shelley which led to confusion over which candidate he was endorsing.

It turns out both the Pizzo and Campbell campaigns had received a signed letter from Shelley’s office indicating his support. After contacting Commissioner Shelley directly, he said the letter to the Campbell camp must have been sent in error, and that he was actually endorsing Pizzo.

Nevertheless, Campbell did receive that letter, and provided it to Florida Politics. That explained why Shelley was among a list of people Campbell claimed were endorsing her campaign in early July.

In the reporting for our previous story, Florida Politics contacted the Campbell campaign directly, explaining Shelley was sticking by his endorsement of Pizzo. They clearly got the message, as Shelley says Campbell later retracted a reciprocal endorsement of his campaign for re-election to the Aventura City Commission.

Yet, his photo remains among a list of people purportedly endorsing Campbell, seen on the flyer above.

“This one is just intentional,” Shelley says.

“I don’t know where she’s getting it from. But it’s just a disgrace; it’s illegal.”

On the law, he’s right.

Florida Statute 106.143 reads, in the relevant part: “It is unlawful for any candidate or person on behalf of a candidate to represent that any person or organization supports such candidate, unless the person or organization so represented has given specific approval in writing to the candidate to make such representation.”

Back in July, the Campbell campaign had what they thought was valid written approval. But not now, says Shelley.

“The first time, OK. It could be a mistake, I’ll chalk it up to a mistake. This is not a mistake. She knew.”

Violations of that statute could result in civil penalties.

At first glance, it is possible that the flyers were made to be printed before Campbell receiving notice that Shelley’s endorsement was sent in error. However, Pizzo says that’s not the case here.

Take a look again at the flyer:

In the bottom right, you see the phrase, “Touch 90,” ostensibly referring to Campbell’s “punch number” for Election Day.

“We all got our punch numbers of what number we are going to be on the ballot on July 5,” says Pizzo.

That’s two days after we spoke to the Campbell campaign and released our original story on July 3.

Commissioner Shelley says he wants a formal statement from the Campbell campaign making clear they understand he is not endorsing her campaign. He also says the campaign should cease sending the flyers out immediately.

Shelley also says he’s concerned with his own constituents receiving confusing information.

“This is something which I don’t want affecting me personally, because I’m running for re-election.”

In response to this piece, the Campbell campaign issued a formal apology directly to Commissioner Shelley for misuse of his photo.

“Unfortunately, the staff didn’t recognize that you removed yourself from endorsing Sen. Campbell and gave your name to our graphic designer to prepare literature for the campaign,” said Campbell campaign manager Maxo Sinal.

“By the time we uncovered the mistake, it was already distributed. Mr. Shelley, Sen. Campbell respects everyone’s choice to support her or her opponent. This incident doesn’t reflect our campaign values. On behalf of Sen. Daphne Campbell, I present to you my sincere apology and I have already implemented steps to avoid such a mistake.”

Jason Pizzo

Eileen Higgins gets behind Jason Pizzo in SD 38

Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins, who won a shock victory in the District 5 special election back in June, says she’s endorsing Jason Pizzo in the Democratic primary for Senate District 38.

Pizzo is facing off against incumbent state Sen. Daphne Campbell in the race. But despite Campbell’s incumbency, Higgins says she’s supporting the challenger in a statement released Friday.

“Our community deserves an honest, dedicated state senator fighting for us and Jason Pizzo will be that state senator,” said Higgins.

“Over the years, I’ve seen Jason’s passion and unwavering commitment to making our neighborhoods safer. I know he won’t stop when he gets to Tallahassee.”

Pizzo works as an attorney in Miami; he graduated from the University of Miami School of Law. He praised Higgins for her efforts in her surprise win, where she defeated Zoraida Barreiro in a runoff election for the District 5 seat.

“Commissioner Higgins reaffirmed that voters want honest, authentic leaders who are accountable to the community they serve,” said Pizzo.

“I share her conviction that public service is bigger than just one person, which is why I’m honored to have her support in the home stretch of our campaign. We can deliver a better future for our children, and it starts on Aug. 28 with our vote.”

Pizzo hasn’t been shy about spending money to take over this seat. He recently added another $125,000 in self-loans to his campaign.

SD 38 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including Miami Beach, North Miami and Bal Harbour. No Republicans filed to run in the race, leaving Pizzo and Campbell as the only two declared candidates.

Fraternal Order of Police backs Manny Diaz in SD 36

Manny Diaz has pulled in another endorsement from the law enforcement community, as the Florida State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is backing his bid for the Senate District 36 seat.

FOP is a nationwide organization that advocates on behalf of law enforcement officers. Diaz issued a statement thanking the Florida Lodge for its support after he received word of the endorsement.

“I’m very honored to have FOP’s support,” Diaz said.

“Keeping law enforcement strong is vital to every community across Florida, and I will continue to make that a priority. I admire and appreciate the bravery and dedication law enforcement personnel show each and every day, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to make sure residents and tourists alike enjoy peace and safety in our state.”

This is the second pro-law enforcement group to back Diaz in recent weeks, as the Dade County Police Benevolent Association also endorsed Diaz last month.

Diaz has represented House District 103 since 2012 but is attempting to make a move to the Senate to replace term-limited state Sen. Rene Garcia. Garcia has already endorsed Diaz, who is the only Republican in the race.

On the Democratic side, David Perez, former aide to ex-Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, is running against Julian Santos, a former employee at the Florida Office of Financial Regulation in Miami.

Jason Pizzo

Jason Pizzo adds another $125k in loans to his campaign

Jason Pizzo has added another $125,000 in loans to his campaign in an effort to unseat state Sen. Daphne Campbell in Senate District 38.

The newest self-funding spree came during the period of July 7 to July 20, according to a recent report filed with the Florida Division of Elections. He also added more than $5,000 in outside donations during that period.

Pizzo, a Miami attorney, has now poured in $275,000 in self-loans, on top of more than $110,000 in donations.

He’s also spent more than $260,000 of that money, including more than $60,000 last period. Much of his recent expenditures have gone toward direct mail and door hangers (more than $31,000), canvassing ($4,335) and voter outreach ($4,000).

During the same period, Campbell raised just over $7,000 in donations while spending more than $11,000. That’s yet another financial period where Campbell has spent more than she’s taken in.

The majority of Campbell’s expenditures from last period were used to pay consultants ($4,350) and work on advertisements (more than $3,200).

Pizzo is challenging Campbell in the SD 38 Democratic primary after losing a similar bid in 2016. However, that field featured six challengers, whereas this year’s election in a one-on-one contest between he and Campbell.

No Republican filed to run in the race.

SD 38 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including Miami Beach, North Miami and Bal Harbour. The primary election will be held Aug. 28.

Latino Victory Fund endorsing trio of Florida Legislature candidates

Liberal action group Latino Victory Fund, which seeks to help elect more Latinos to government, is offering up new three new endorsements for the Florida Legislature.

David Perez, Brendan Ramirez, and Robert Asencio are strong Latino leaders with a demonstrated commitment to their communities, and they will play a key role in turning out Latino progressives this election cycle,” said Cristóbal J. Alex, president of Latino Victory Fund.

Perez is competing against Julian Santos for the Democratic nomination in the race for Senate District 36. Ramirez is battling a pair of Democrats, Clark Anderson and Joy Goff-Marcil, in House District 30. And Asencio is pushing for re-election in House District 118.

“Latino Victory is proud to support these exemplary candidates and will do everything in our power to get them to the finish line this November,” added Alex.

Perez previously worked as an aide to former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas. If he earns the Democratic nomination, he will face off against current state Rep. Manny Diaz, who is trying to make a move to the Senate after representing House District 103 for six years.

Perez has also served as a lieutenant in the Coral Gables Fire Department.

I am ready to serve my district and state in the same way that I have served my community as a firefighter — always on the front lines, ready to fight,” said Perez.

“As the son of Cuban immigrants, it is an honor to receive the endorsement of Latino Victory Fund and to know that like-minded organizations support my campaign.”

Ramirez, an Orlando resident, is attempting to oust Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes.

“For far too long our community has been underrepresented and it is high time that we say, ‘presente,’” remarked Ramirez.

“That is why I decided to run for Florida House District 30. Leadership commands a devoted organization that provides a steadfast force of empowerment. Latino Victory is that vehicle and I am humbled to be among this solid and dynamic organization. I look forward to working together.”

Asencio is unopposed in the Democratic primary as he fights to hold onto the HD 118 seat he won in 2016. Kendall business owner Anthony Rodriguez is the only Republican filed to run against Asencio.

“As a proud Puerto Rican, career public servant, and member of the Florida House of Representatives, Latino Victory Fund’s endorsement for reelection serves as a testament to our mutual commitment to representation for Latinos,” said Asencio.

“With unified voting power, our economic and political influence as Latinos is limitless and the key to forging a brighter future for our nation, communities, and families. I eagerly look forward to the accomplishments of our work together. En unidad marchamos adelante.”

Jimmy Patronis, 30 legislative candidates get builders’ backing

The Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida has completed its list of endorsements for Florida Cabinet and contested primary races for the Florida Legislature, announcing the backing of Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis‘s re-election effort, and 30 legislative candidates.

Though it has not yet been announced, the association, meeting this week in Marco Island, also reportedly is set to declare its endorsement of Republican Ashley Moody for Florida attorney general.

The builders group released its official list following earlier annoucements of endorsements for Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the U.S Senate race today, and for Republican Adam Putnam‘s gubernatorial bid and Republican Matt Caldwell for Florida agriculture commissioner in previous actions.

It also previously announced some legislative endorsements in some races without primaries.

The legislative endorsements were decided by the state organization’s regional chapters. Among those being released Thursday, in elections with contested primaries, are:

Senate District 4, Republican state Sen. Aaron Bean, for re-election.

Senate District 16, Republican Ed Hooper.

Senate District 20, Republican state Sen. Tom Lee for re-election.

Senate District 30, Democratic state Sen. Bobby Powell Jr., for re-election.

House District 1, Republican Rebekah Bydlak.

House District 2, Republcian Alex Andrade.

House District 10, Republican Chuck Brandan.

House District 11, Republican state Rep. Cord Byrd for re-election.

House District 15, Republican Wyman Duggan.

House District 16, Republican Adrian Zika.

House District 50, Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia for re-election.

House District 51, Republian Tyler Sirois.

House District 52, Republican state Rep. Thad Altman for re-election.

House District 53, Republican state Rep. Randy Fine for re-election.

House District 54, Republican state Rep. Erin Grall for re-election.

House District 59, Republican Joe Wicker.

House District 61, Democrat Karen Skyers.

House District 64, Republican state Rep. James Grant for re-election.

House District 72, Republican Ray Pilon.

House District 79, Republican Spencer Roach.

House District 81, Democrat Tina Polsky.

House District 82, state Rep. MaryLynn Magar for re-election.

House District 83, Republican Toby Overdorf.

House District 85, Republican state Rep. Rick Roth for re-election.

House District 86, Republican state Rep. Matt Willhite for re-election.

House District 87, Democratic state Rep. David Silvers for re-election.

House District 97, Democratic state Rep. Jared Moskowitz for re-election.

House District 115, Republican Vance Aloupis.

House District 116, Republcian state Rep. Daniel Perez for re-election.

House Districxt 119, Republican Annie Martinez.


Florida Medical Association PAC backing Daphne Campbell

State Sen. Daphne Campbell has secured the endorsement of the Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC) as she continues to try to hold off primary challenger Jason Pizzo.

“The FMA PAC happily endorses Sen. Daphne Campbell for re-election,” said the group’s president, Dr. Mike Patete. He also referenced Campbell’s status as a registered nurse.

“As a member of the health care team, Sen. Campbell has a deep understanding of the issues that affect the physician community. We hope to continue working with her as we strive to make Florida the best state to practice medicine.”

The PAC is the political arm of the Florida Medical Association, which represents medical and osteopathic physicians throughout Florida.

“I am happy to have the support of Florida physicians in my re-election campaign,” said Campbell of the endorsement.

“As a registered nurse, I offer a unique perspective in the Florida Senate on health care issues. I look forward to continuing working with physicians in creating a health care system that works for all Floridians.”

Campbell attended nursing school in Haiti before moving to Florida.

Her campaign for the Senate District 38 seat was also recently endorsed by the Florida Police Benevolent Association. Pizzo, a Miami attorney, is challenging Campbell for the Democratic nomination in SD 38 after he lost to Campbell in 2016.

The two will face off in the Florida primary Aug. 28. No Republicans are filed to run in the race.

Manny Diaz grabs support of South Florida police union

The Dade County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) is throwing its support behind Manny Diaz in the race for Senate District 36.

Diaz is running for the seat after representing House District 103 since 2012. The SD 36 seat is currently held by Rene Garcia, who is term-limited and has already endorsed Diaz as his replacement.

“As the PBA goes through the screening process, we try to select the very best,” wrote Dade County PBA President Steadman Stahl in a letter to Diaz.

“We feel that you will be one of the very best, and we wish you a successful campaign.”

Diaz is the only Republican in the race to replace Garcia.

David Perez, who served as an aide to former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, is running on the Democratic side. He’s facing a primary challenge against Julian Santos, a former employee at the Florida Office of Financial Regulation in Miami.

“I am very honored to have the support of the Dade County PBA,” said Diaz.

“I’m grateful for their support of my campaign and for the invaluable service their members provide to our community each and every day. It is vital that we have a strong law enforcement community, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to make sure they are adequately resourced and supported in their important work.”

Diaz holds a large fundraising lead over his Democratic opponents, who only entered the race recently. Perez has pulled in a little more than $20,000, with Santos just crossing the $10,000 mark. Diaz, meanwhile, has raised close to $400,000.

Diaz has also earned support from a wide variety of Miami-Dade County officials.

SD 36 covers portions of Miami-Dade County including Miami Lakes, Hialeah, and Miami Springs.

Pair of Miami Beach pols back Jason Pizzo

Jason Pizzo continues to add support for his campaign against incumbent state Sen. Daphne Campbell, as he earned the endorsements of two Miami Beach politicians Thursday.

Mayor Dan Gelber and Commissioner Micky Steinberg of Miami Beach both say they’re backing Pizzo in his race for the Senate District 38 seat. Pizzo, a Miami attorney, is challenging Campbell in the Democratic primary.

“I am proud to endorse Jason Pizzo,” said Mayor Gelber. “Jason has a pronounced sense of social justice and the background and training of a prosecutor to allow him to effectively advocate for so many of the critical issues important to our residents.”

Gelber previously served in the Florida Senate, representing District 35 from 2008-10. Prior to that, he represented House District 106 in 2000-08. In 2010, Gelber ran for Attorney General, losing to current AG Pam Bondi.

Added Steinberg: “Jason knows that education is the single best investment we can make in our future, which is why I’m proud to endorse his campaign.

“As our next state senator, he’ll fight for every resident in District 38 to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get ahead. I look forward to tackling our community’s challenges together.”

The two add to a long list of South Florida officials supporting Pizzo in his primary challenge. SD 38 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including Miami Beach, North Miami and Bal Harbour.

“I am proud and humbled to have the support of Mayor Gelber and Commissioner Steinberg,” said Pizzo.

“Together, we will work to bring needed reforms to Tallahassee and ensure that communities like Miami Beach are well represented.”

No Republicans filed to run in SD 38, leaving Pizzo and Campbell to battle it out on their own. The primary election will be held Aug. 28.

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