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Richard Corcoran

Richard Corcoran’s political committee continues spending spree in May

House Speaker Richard Corcoran won’t be on the ballot this year, but that hasn’t stopped his political committee from spending beaucoup bucks.

Corcoran started Watchdog PAC in April 2017, and shortly after wrapping his first Legislative Session with the Speaker’s gavel, he started piling on cash — more than $6.9 million between May 2017 and April 2018, the last time it recorded a contribution.

For nearly its entire run, the committee was seen as Corcoran’s primary fundraising vehicle for a gubernatorial bid or, later on, a run for Attorney General. The Pasco Republican, who had repeatedly said he would run for Guv or “go home,” ended that speculation a month ago when he chose the latter option and threw his support behind Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s gubernatorial bid.

In the weeks since, Corcoran’s committee has spent more than $340,000 on payroll, office rent, contributions to other Republican pols, research and every flavor of consulting contract.

Topping the expenditure list was more than $50,000 in payments to public opinion research firm Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, which has worked with many Republican politicians including Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Watchdog PAC paid the firm $44,750 for a survey, $7,500 for research consulting and another $2,000 for research services.

Tallahassee shop Rapid Loop Consulting received $46,275 for travel expenses, web design, office supplies and meeting expenses; Jacksonville-based Political Capital received $40,000 for fundraising and political consulting; and $25,000 apiece to Capital City Friends of NRA and political committee Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy.

Further down the list were $1,000 campaign contributions to Republican Rep. Jeanette Nuñez’ 2020 bid for Senate District 39, Jeremiah Hawkes’ campaign for Pasco County Judge and Ronald Kitchen’s campaign for Citrus County Commission.

Watchdog PAC spent $341,361 in all last month, leaving it with $1.63 million banked heading into June.

Lori Alhadeff earns more than $70K in first month of Broward School Board race

Lori Alhadeff is off to a strong start in her campaign for Broward County School Board, raising more than $73,000 in just over two weeks since her official announcement.

Alhadeff, who lost her daughter Alyssa in the February attack at Stoneman Douglas High School, announced her candidacy on May 15. In documents filed with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, Alhadeff declared more than $23,000 in donations along with a $50,000 self-loan to her campaign.

Alhadeff is running for the District 4 seat, currently held by Abby Freedman. However, Freedman has already announced she would not compete for the seat in November. Nathalie Adams, who had previously filed to run in District 4, has also withdrawn her bid.

That leaves Alhadeff alone in the race from this point on. Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter Alaina in the shooting, is also running for a school board seat. He too posted large May fundraising totals, declaring more than $44,000 raised.

Alhadeff has a master’s degree in education and is a former teacher. She also founded the nonprofit Make Our Schools Safe following the Parkland shooting, in which 17 people were killed.

Committee backing felon rights restoration raised $400K in May

The committee backing a 2018 ballot initiative that would automatically restore voting rights to Florida’s nonviolent ex-cons brought in more than $400,000 in contributions last month.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy received numerous small-dollar contributions from Floridians, though nearly all the $409,220 raised last month came through just three checks.

At the top of the report was a $200,000 check from The Sixteen Thirty Fund, an advocacy group that has sponsored dozens of local, state and federal advocacy campaigns since it was founded in 2009.

That contribution was followed by a pair of $100,000 checks from Cale Bonderman and Zoe Bonderman, who appear to be children of Texas billionaire David Bonderman.

Cale Bonderman is a musician and songwriter who heads up indie band Cale and the Gravity Well; Zoe Bonderman is listed an “owner and CEO.” Both Bondermans gave $100,000 to Floridians for a Fair Democracy in February as well.

May also saw the committee spend $227,762, including nearly $100,000 in payments to Ohio-based EMC Research, $40,000 to New York-based Mercury Public Affairs for consulting work, and a long list of other expenses including payroll for paid staffers.

That left the committee with $452,575 in the bank heading into June. Floridians for a Fair Democracy has raised nearly $5.5 million since it was formed in October 2014, though all but $100,000 of those funds were raised in the past 18 months.

Earlier this year, the felon voting rights amendment gathered enough signatures to make the Nov. 6 ballot, where it will appear as Amendment 4. It is one of 13 amendments, including eight amendments proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission, that will go before voters in the fall.

A recent survey conducted by EMC and North Star Opinion Research found nearly three-quarters of Florida voters in support of restoring voter restoration rights to felons. Amendments need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

Amendment 4, also known as the Voting Restoration Amendment, would restore voting rights to Floridians with felony convictions once they complete all terms of their sentence — including parole, probation, and restitution if imposed by a judge.

Those convicted of murder or sexual offenses would be ineligible.

Toby Overdorf keeps fundraising lead, adds two new endorsements in HD 83 race

Treasure Coast businessman Toby Overdorf is adding two new endorsements to his campaign for House District 83 after Rep. Tom Rooney and Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith announced their support. Overdorf is also holding a money lead despite a strong fundraising month from Republican primary opponent Sasha Dadan.

Smith is serving his fifth term on the Martin County Commission. He was first elected back in 2000. He has also served as the president of the Florida Association of Counties. Smith had high praise for Overdorf’s bid to replace term-limited Rep. Gayle Harrell in HD 83.

“I’ve watched him help create jobs and serve our community for years,” said Rooney of Overdorf. “He will be an invaluable asset to District 83 in Tallahassee.”

“I’m proud to support Toby Overdorf,” added Smith. “He is a reliable and experienced leader who will help keep Florida headed in the right direction. He will be an excellent addition to the Florida House of Representatives, and I look forward to working with him.”

Smith is the latest local lawmaker to back Overdorf’s bid, as he recently received support from Port St. Lucie Councilwoman Stephanie Morgan. Overdorf thanked both Smith and Rooney for their support in an announcement following the news.

“It’s an honor to have Congressman Rooney on our team,” said Overdorf.

He added of Commissioner Smith, “He has provided strong leadership in this community for many years.”

May fundraising reports for the race were also released, showing Overdorf earning more than $5,000 in donations last month.

But his opponent, Dadan, nearly tripled Overdorf’s May haul, pulling in $15,000 in just 11 days. Almost all of that remains available. That’s more money than Overdorf has earned in a month since he brought in more than $21,000 back in November.

However, Overdorf has been in this contest for a while, filing all the way back in March 2017. Dadan only entered the race on May 21 of this year. That’s allowed Overdorf to earn more overall, crossing the $70,000 mark with more than $40,000 still on hand. It remains to be seen whether Dadan can catch him in the money race.

The two will face off in the HD 83 Republican primary on August 28.

HD 114 challenger Javier Enriquez raises more than $20,000 in May

Attorney Javier Enriquez is now out front in the fundraising race for House District 114.

Enriquez, a Miami Republican, pulled in more than $20,000 in May according to reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections. A bulk of that money came from attorneys and law firms in Miami-Dade County.

Enriquez is slated to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Javier Fernandez for the HD 114 seat. Fernandez pulled in just over $3,000 in May.

The candidates’ fundraising gap is mitigated somewhat by the fact Fernandez’s fundraising period only covers the final seven days of May. Enriquez’s report covers a more extensive period, from May 4 onward.

Fernandez is a newly-elected representative, earning the HD 114 seat in a special election on May 1. The seat opened up after former Rep. Daisy Baez resigned last year.

Fernandez also faces a nominal primary challenger on the Democratic side. Alberto Santana filed to run back in March, but has not yet registered any fundraising information with the state.

That leaves Enriquez and Fernandez as the likely nominees come November.

HD 114 covers a portion of Miami-Dade County. The district has seen some tight races in recent elections, leaving this year’s contest open to either party.

Michael Grieco ends May with more than $90K on-hand for HD 113 race

Final May fundraising numbers are in for the House District 113 race, and they show former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco with the lead in cash on hand.

As reported Monday by Florida Politics, attorney Kubs Lalchandani has pulled in the most money so far, bringing in more than $100,000 since February. He currently has more than $70,000 of that still available.

But in just one month of fundraising, Grieco managed to nearly match that $70,000 in outside contributions alone. He also added a $25,000 loan to his campaign, leaving him with more than $90,000 on hand.

An update to fundraising totals for Deede Weithorn, a third Democrat running for HD 113, shows she poured in a $50,000 loan to her campaign in addition to more than $3,000 in donations. That leaves Weithorn with about $77,000 to spend going forward.

All three Democrats hope those money totals are enough to help secure the nomination in HD 113. They’re gunning to replace current state Rep. David Richardson, who is running for Congress. Richardson, a Democrat, won his three previous elections in the district easily.

Jonathan Parker, the only Republican filed to run for HD 113 so far, did not present any fundraising information for May. However, he filed to run very late in the month, on May 29.

HD 113 covers a slice of Miami-Dade County including Miami Beach and North Bay Village.

Belinda Keiser antes up another $500K out of pocket for SD 25 campaign

With more than $600,000 added to candidates’ coffers in May, the race for Senate District 25 just got a whole lot richer.

However, a whopping $500,000 of that was in the form of a self-loan from Belinda Keiser to her campaign. That’s on top of nearly $55,000 in donations earned by Keiser in her first month as a candidate for SD 25.

Keiser, who serves as vice chancellor of Keiser University, announced her bid back in early May. For some, the move raised eyebrows, as Keiser is based in Broward County. SD 25 covers Martin and St. Lucie counties as well as a piece of Palm Beach County.

Keiser has also taken heat for numerous past donations to Democrats despite her decision to run as a Republican. The influx of money into her campaign could help Keiser fight back if her opponents try to target her on those issues.

Democrat Robert Levy joined the SD 25 self-funding trend, loaning $50,000 to his campaign. He also took in more than $1,000 in outside donations.

Gayle Harrell, who is competing with Keiser for the Republican nomination in SD 25, raised nearly $5,000 in donations in May, according to her filings with the Florida Division of Elections.

Joining the trio is Dr. Joe Smith in a campaign for Senate President Joe Negron‘s seat. Smith has not yet registered any fundraising information with the state.

Negron announced he would step aside before his term ends in 2020, triggering a special election this November. Primary voters will decide the candidates in that election when they head to the polls August 28.

Negron has already endorsed Harrell as his successor. If she comes out on top in the primary, she’ll face a Republican-friendly electorate. The GOP nominee has won the previous two SD 25 elections by at least 14 percentage points. In 2016, the district also voted for Donald Trump by more than 11 points.

Jimmy Patronis expands cash lead in CFO race

The campaign cash keeps rolling in for CFO Jimmy Patronis.

The Panama City Republican brought in $463,251 last month, including $217,601 for his campaign account and $245,650 for political committee Treasure Florida. That haul boosts his overall tally to $3.6 million with $3.17 million in the bank at the beginning of June.

Topping the committee report was a pair of $25,000 checks, one from a political committee tied to Coral Gables billionaire Mike Fernandez and another from South Florida recovery center Deerfield Florida House. Utility company TECO Energy, law firm Lydecker LLP, medical marijuana dispensary Surterra and a political committee linked to the Florida Chamber of Commerce followed at the $15,000 level.

The campaign report listed 270 contributions, including 35 for the maximum allowable contribution of $3,000. Notable names among the max donor crowd were lobby firms The Rubin Group and The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners as well as half-dozen checks linked to U.S. Sugar and its subsidiaries.

Patronis was appointed to the CFO job by Gov. Rick Scott last summer. He faces light opposition from Antoanet Iotova in the Republican primary, while former Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring is likely to face him on the November ballot.

Ring’s finance reports combined to $59,603 last month with $35,000 of that sum raised via his political committee, Florida Action Fund, and the balance heading to the campaign account.

The former Yahoo! executive’s most prominent contribution in May was a $15,000 check from the Greater Florida Leadership Group, one of three committees chaired by Tallahassee lobbyist David Ramba to donate to Ring’s committee last month. Also on the committee report was a $10,000 check from Florida Alliance for Better Government, a committee chaired by lobbyist and Democratic consultant Screven Watson.

The campaign haul included a trio of $3,000 checks political committees tied to the Florida Police Benevolent Association. The PBA endorsed Ring for CFO last month.

Ring has raised about $1.1 million for his campaign, including $150,000 in loans. He started June with $458,674 on hand.

Matt Caldwell tops Ag Commissioner field in May

North Fort Myers Rep. Matt Caldwell topped the four-person Republican primary for Agriculture Commissioner in May fundraising with more than $200,000 received between his campaign and political committee.

The May reports, which show $53,120 in campaign fundraising and $147,500 in committee cash, bring Caldwell’s total fundraising up to $2.12 million with $1.26 million in the bank. That puts a small gap between him and Sebring Republican Sen. Denise Grimsley, who has $1.04 million banked after raising $136,252 in May.

“I am grateful for the statewide support in our bid for Commissioner of Agriculture. Some typical politicians in this race are apparently willing to waste Floridians hard earned tax dollars to bankroll their campaigns — but I have made it clear that I will not take taxpayer money to fund my campaign,” Caldwell said Tuesday.

“And while ‘self-funders’ may try to buy a seat and avoid the hard work of a campaign trail, we are running the only true, statewide campaign for Commissioner. We will raise the funds needed for this campaign from Floridians that believe in my track record and conservative message.”

That second jab was directed at former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman, who raised about $64,000 last month and kicked in another $200,000 in self-funding to maintain his cash lead in the primary race.

His reports bring him up to $3.42 million, including $3 million in candidate contributions. He started dipping into those funds last month, spending more than $1.6 million on a media buy to air a series of campaign commercials statewide. He started June with about $1.5 million in the bank.

Also running in the Republican primary is Mike McCalister, a retired Army colonel from Plant City. He entered the race in mid-March and has raised just $1,800 so far.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary could face Fort Lauderdale Democrat Nikki Fried in November.

The medical marijuana advocate filed for the race Tuesday, joining fellow Democrats Jeffrey Duane Porter and R. David Walker, neither of whom have gained any traction on the fundraising trail.

Walker kicked in $100,000 in loans to his campaign last month but raised just $1,286. He has $148,550 in the bank. Porter raised just $1,100 in May and has $22,900 on hand.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Lee Mangold gets AFL-CIO endorsement in HD 28 race

Democratic state House candidate Lee Mangold has received the endorsement of the Florida AFL-CIO in his quest to be elected in Florida’s House District 28.

Mangold, who founded and runs a cybersecurity business and is an adjunct professor at the University of Central Florida, is a unionized member of the United Faculty of Florida, Florida Education Association, National Education Association, and AFL-CIO.

He offered a strong advocacy of unions.

“I’m honored to receive this endorsement from Florida AFL-CIO, and I’m proud to be a voice for the hard-working men and women in this state,” Mangold stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “Unions ensure that employees have a collective voice in the organizations they serve; unions ensure that employees are treated fairly; unions ensure that employees get a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. To suggest otherwise ignores the positive impacts unions have had on this country and the lives of working people and families across the US. I’m looking forward to voting against any attempts to compromise our unions here in Florida.“

Mangold, of Casselberry, faces Republican David Smith of Winter Springs in the HD 28 contest, covering northeast Seminole County. The incumbent, Republican state Rep. Jason Brodeur, is not seeking re-election.

Through the end of May Mangold has raised about $20,000, including $10,000 he lent to his campaign, and has spent all but about $5,000 of that, according to the latest campaign finance reports posted by the Florida Division of Elections. Smith has raised nearly $200,000, and had about $150,000 of that in the bank at the end of May.

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