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Everglades Foundation adds to senior staff

The Everglades Foundation has hired Shannon Estenoz to be its chief operating officer and vice president for policy and programs, as well as four others into senior staff-level positions, the organization announced Friday.

Estenoz, a Broward County resident, has worked 21 years in environmental policy and advocacy, most recently at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where she was director of the Office of Everglades Restoration Initiatives and the executive director of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force.

A former member of the South Florida Water Management District Board of Governors, Estenoz also served as executive director of the Everglades Law Center before directing the World Wildlife Fund’s Everglades Program, and the Suncoast Regional Program of the National Parks Conservation Association.

The Everglades Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to leading efforts to restore and protect the greater Everglades ecosystem, also announced the following hirings:

Rebecca Rose as director of marketing and communications. She is a a veteran Washington D.C.-based communications professional now living in Miami, with experience working with departments and agencies ranging from the Navy to the Export-Import Bank.

Kimberly Dye as director of development for Southwest Florida. She has 25 years experience leading development teams including for Public Media in Southwest Florida and Erie, Pa. She lives in Naples.

Katherine Caskey as director of leadership giving for South Florida and The Keys. She has 15 years of wide-ranging leadership in philanthropic work in Chicago and Florida. She lives in Coral Gables.

Owen Baillie as director of leadership giving for Miami-Dade County. He has broad fundraising experience in initiatves including  youth advocacy, public health, medical advancement, and higher education. He lives in Miami.

“The hiring of these exceptionally experienced, sought-after professionals underscores our commitment to saving the Everglades and, hence, preserving clean drinking water for nearly 8 million Floridians,” the foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Eric Eikenberg stated in a news release. “We are laser-focused on high-impact restoration projects, such as building a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to filter the pollutants that cause devastating algae blooms which damage our plant and wildlife, and cripple our tourism, real estate, and commercial fishing industries. Florida’s future depends on clean water.”

Ardian Zika hits $200K raised for HD 37 campaign

Land O’ Lakes businessman Ardian Zika hit another fundraising milestone in the race to succeed House Speaker Richard Corcoran in Pasco County’s House District 37.

Zika, a Republican, tacked on another $6,150 during the middle two weeks of July, bringing his overall fundraising past the $200,000 mark since he entered the race in August 2017. He has more than $164,000 in the bank.

“I am humbled by the strong financial support our campaign has received from throughout the district and from the Tampa Bay area,” Zika said. “I am grateful for the many generous donors who have heard our message and have given of their hard-earned resources to help us get the message out to the voters in House District 37.

“I’m also extraordinarily grateful for the many volunteers, who have given of their time as we have walked door to door throughout House District 37,” he continued. “Only our campaign qualified for the ballot by petition, our campaign has large signs and yard signs in neighborhoods across the district, and most importantly, we have walked every single precinct, knocking on doors and meeting voters at their homes.”

Zika’s fundraising tally keeps him far ahead of his primary opponents, Elle Rudisill and Ryan Patrick Boney, neither of whom have made much headway on the fundraising trail.

Rudisill, also of Land O’ Lakes, has raised a little over $14,000 for her campaign after more than a year in the race. She had about $5,400 at the ready as of July 20. Boney, of Odessa, has only shown about $1,800 in activity since joining the fracas in January. He spent every dime in his campaign account covering the qualifying fee to make the ballot.

In addition to his strong fundraising, Zika has had plenty of success reeling in endorsements. His most recent nod came in from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, with prior backers including three police unions, St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson and former House Speaker Will Weatherford, who represented Pasco County’s HD 38 during his time in the House.

The primary election is Aug. 28. Whomever emerges from the three-way battle will be the heavy favorite to succeed Corcoran, who cannot run for re-election due to term limits. Still, the Republican nominee must defeat Land O’ Lakes Democrat Tammy Garcia in the Nov. 6 general election. She had raised a little over $10,000 for her campaign and had $6,100 on hand through the reporting period ending July 6.

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. Corcoran never faced an Election Day challenger in his four campaigns in the House, three of which came after HD 37 was redrawn. The seat is a Republican stronghold that voted plus-27 for Donald Trump two years ago.

Florida Senate Republicans to raise cash at the U.S. Open

With a number of competitive races slated for the 2018 ballot, Florida Senate Republicans are planning a grand slam of a fundraiser at the U.S. Open in New York City next month.

According to an invitation sent out by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the main committee supporting GOP state Senate campaigns, donors who sign up will get to attend a “VIP Dinner” at Quality Italian on Aug. 28 and then catch day 4 of the hardcourt tennis tournament the following day.

There’s no minimum donation listed on the invite, but it’s likely attendees will have to show FRSCC some serious love — which assuredly doesn’t mean “zero” in this case — in order to rub elbows at the multi-day event.

If that isn’t enticing enough, the invitation says donors could also get a private tennis lesson with Nick Bollettieri, the hall of fame tennis coach who developed tennis legends Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles and others. Don’t expect the octogenarian to make you run cross court, however.

Florida Democrats have their eyes on six Republican-held districts this fall: Gainesville-based SD 8, the Tampa Bay area’s SD 16, SD 18 and SD 24, Lakeland’s SD 22 and Miami’s SD 36.

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano has headed up fundraising duties for FRSCC since last summer, and the committee’s three quarterly reports since he took over have been aces. Through March 31, he had helped reel in $7 million for the committee, including a record-breaking haul in the third quarter of 2017.

It’ll take even more cash, however, if Republicans want to pull off the vaunted double bagel — that means 6-0 for non-tennis folk.

The next FRSCC report is due Aug. 24, a few days ahead of the Aug. 28 primary election. Money brought during the NYC fundraiser will be reported included in the finance report due Nov. 2.

The invitation is below.

Vance Aloupis

Vance Aloupis rolls out Spanish-language ad in crowded race for HD 115

Miami Republican Vance Aloupis just released what may be one of the best ads in Florida so far this cycle.

Launching his ad entitled “Dominoes” this week in his bid for House District 115, Aloupis uses a cultural touchstone to connect with a community he hopes to represent in the Legislature.

The ad hits all the notes it needs to — while Aloupis is a strong candidate and fluent in Spanish, he isn’t of Cuban descent and has an odd name for a Republican primary in Miami. Instead of running away from that, his political team of Alex Miranda and Brad Herold chose to lean into it.

The Spanish-language ad opens with a pair of men playing dominoes and talking politics. One of the men says he’s “getting tired of all these career politicians,” and the other says “what about Vance Aloupis?”

Rather than passing off “Aloupis” as a typical name for the majority Hispanic district, the ad pokes fun by making it a source of humor — when the first man hears the name, he says “A-Que?”

His friend gives him a bit of help by sounding it out: “A-lou-pis.”

He then talks about the first-time candidate’s conservative credentials for a bit before his friend is convinced, though he says he’s still “not sure about the name.” That’s when Aloupis shows up. After announcing himself he holds up a domino, saying “Yo soy le ficha,” a popular Cuban domino term that also implies Vance “is your candidate.”

Unlike many ads aired by state House candidates, this one is devoid of b-roll and voice-overs and is primed to stand out among the dozens of ads for House, Senate, congressional and gubernatorial candidates saturating the airwaves. If it hits the mark with early voters, they’ll likely remember Aloupis’ name when their mail ballots arrive, too.

Aloupis, an attorney who works as the CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida, is one of six candidates running for HD 115, the seat currently held by term-limited Republican Rep. Michael Bileca. He faces Jose Fernandez, Carlos Gobel, and Rhonda Lopez in the Aug. 28 Republican primary. Jeffrey Solomon and James Linwood Schulman are competing for the Democratic nomination.

The past week has seen Aloupis pick up some major endorsements, first from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and then from the Florida Realtors, the state’s largest professional trade association. Prior endorsements include a nod from Bileca, who cited his work with the Children’s Movement and called him a “man of integrity who will represent District 115 in Tallahassee with distinction.”

His campaign finance reports are also rosy. As of July 6, Aloupis led the field in true fundraising with about $271,000 raised and $131,000 in the bank, though his competitors have kept up by juicing their campaigns with candidate loans.

Fernandez has anteed up $280,000 and raised $110,000 and has $250,000 on hand; Lopez has put down $200,000 in loans in addition to her $70,000 in fundraising and has $163,000 in the bank. Gobel is in a distant fourth place with about $15,000 raised and less than $5,000 in the bank.

HD 115 covers an inland strip of Miami-Dade County, including parts of Miami, Pinecrest, South Miami and Palmetto Bay. Like many majority Hispanic districts, HD 115 soundly rejected Donald Trump at the top of the ticket while voting to retain a Republican lawmaker — Bileca won with 54 percent of the vote, and past elections have seen him win by as much as 59-41 over a Democratic challenger.

Aloupis’ ad, along with an English translation, is below.

“I’m getting tired of all these career politicians.”

“What about Vance Aloupis?”

“A-What?”

“A-lou-pis.”

“Is Aloupis Conservative?”

“Lifelong Conservative. He’ll cut taxes. Create jobs. And make sure that our kids get a world class education.”

“I like that. I’m not sure about the name though.”

“Me Either.”

“Hey, I’m sitting right here … Yo soy le ficha.”

Ryan Torrens campaign admits fundraising violation

Democratic Attorney General candidate Ryan Torrens admitted to accepting more than the allowed maximum personal donation to a state campaign and has allegedly overlooked a series of other finance-related election violations.

In a letter dated July 13, Torrens’ campaign treasurer Jessica Vasconez acknowledged to Secretary of State Ken Detzner that the campaign received a $4,000 contribution. The maximum permitted for a statewide candidate is $3,000. Vasconez told Detzner she refunded the donor $3,332.52.

According to state elections law, “any person who knowingly and willfully makes or accepts no more than one contribution in violation” over the maximum allowable contribution “commits a misdemeanor of the first degree,” which carries a penalty of up to a year in jail. Multiple violations are charged as a third-degree felony.

But complicating matters for the Torrens campaign is a July 18 complaint alleging it has violated multiple provisions of Florida Election Code.

The complaint, filed by Tallahassee elections attorney Max Solomon, claims the $4,000 contribution came via a cashier’s check. Florida law limits cash and cashier’s check contributions to $50 per person per election. Again, a violation of that law is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.

The complaint also accuses the Torrens campaign of accepting $100 in total from seven different donations filed anonymously, but from the same address. The address in question corresponds to the Odessa post office box the Torrens campaign lists as its primary address.

Solomon’s complaint also claims the campaign accepted more than the cash maximum from similar names listed at the same address. If those contributions were made by the same people or person, but made to appear as different people in a finance report, that could be a violation of the elections code punishable by up to a year in jail. Multiple violations could be charged as a felony.

On the subject of anonymous cash donations, the Florida Division of Elections says: “Report this contribution as an anonymous contribution on your campaign report but do not spend these funds on the campaign. After the campaign is over, dispose of the funds pursuant to Section 106.141, F.S. (DEO 89-02).”

In total, the complaint levies five violations against the campaign.

As of yet, the Torrens campaign has not formally responded to allegations made in the complaint, other than acknowledging the $4,000 personal contribution before the complaint was filed.

Torrens is an attorney in Hillsborough County. He will face state Rep. Sean Shaw, of Tampa, in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

As of July 13, Torrens had raised about $128,000 including $8,450 in loans and had $3,422 in the bank. Shaw has raised more than $810,000 between his campaign and committee, Sean Shaw for Florida. He has $514,000 on hand.

Jim Waldman antes up as Gary Farmer piles on committee cash

Former Democratic Rep. Jim Waldman dumped six figures into his Senate District 34 bid, but his self-funding was outpaced by another major haul for incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer.

Waldman’s $150,000 campaign loan was disclosed on his new campaign finance report covering July 7 through July 20. Alongside the loan came another 16 checks, including 11 for $1,000, the maximum allowable contribution for state legislative campaigns.

In all, the Pompano Beach attorney has brought in $11,716 in outside money and kicked in another $157,500 in candidate loans since his surprise entry into the race on the last day of the candidate qualifying period. He had $167,332 in the bank on July 20.

Farmer’s campaign has only reported its contributions through July 6 — the new report isn’t due until Friday. His political committee, which must post a finance report weekly through Election Day, showed a massive haul for the July 7 through July 13 reporting period.

Floridians for Ethics, Accountability and Responsibility brought in $340,000 for the week. Sensible Gun Laws Now, a political committee chaired by Alejandro Alvarez, chipped in $100,000 of that total. Farmer, an attorney at Morgan & Morgan, brought in another $225,000 via checks from 11 law firms from all corners of the state.

The committee spent more than $22,000 on direct mail consulting and kicked another $1,000 over to Farmer’s campaign account, leaving it with $786,000 banked on July 13. As of July 6, the campaign account had $121,730 at the ready.

Farmer was elected to the Florida Senate in 2016 after taking 43 percent of the vote in a three-way primary against former Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed and Waldman, who finished third with a smidge over 28 percent of the vote.

SD 34 is a Democratic stronghold that covers coastal Broward County. No Republican qualified for the race, but due to a write-in candidate posting the ballot fee the otherwise open Aug. 28 primary election will be closed to voters who are not registered Democrats.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Adam Putnam scores another fundraising win, nears $35M raised

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam tacked on another $370,000 for his gubernatorial bid between July 7 and July 13, nearly putting him past the $35 million mark in total fundraising.

The Bartow Republican raised $158,134 in hard money and brought in another $212,575 via his political committee, Florida Grown, for a total haul of $370,709. That’s six figures better than the $226,850 primary opponent U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis brought in during the same stretch.

Putnam’s campaign cash was split across more than 300 individual donors, more than half of whom chipped in $100 or less. The committee haul was buoyed by a $100,000 check from freight shipping company R&L Transfer, while 14 other donors accounted for the balance.

Putnam’s campaign spent just $342, but Florida Grown shelled out a whopping $2.7 million for the week. That includes more than $2.4 million in media buys via Virginia-based Smart Media Group, a $200,000 contribution to the Republican Party of Florida and numerous smaller payments for campaign and fundraising consulting.

To date, Putnam has raised $34.85 million between the two accounts. He had $12.62 million in the bank on July 13.

DeSantis reports showed $81,850 in hard money and another $145,000 raised for his political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis. The campaign report featured nearly 1,000 contributions, including more than 900 from donors chipping in $100 or less.

The committee report was more top-heavy, with a $50,000 check from Cherna Moskowitz taking the top spot among the eight contributions it received. Cherna Moskowitz is the wife of businessman and philanthropist Irving Moskowitz, who died in 2016.

DeSantis’ spending included $21,500 on the campaign side and another $608,000 out of his committee’s coffers. That included a $500,000 contribution to the Republican Party of Florida, $60,000 in consulting payments and $39,000 in videography through South Carolina-based Something Else Strategies.

Through July 13, DeSantis had raised a little over $13 million between his two accounts and had about $6.78 million banked.

Despite Putnam’s prolific fundraising, recent polls have shown DeSantis rocketing into the lead in the two-way primary race, with one poll showing him ahead by 20 points thanks to the so-called “Trump bump” following the president’s endorsement of the Ponte Vedra Republican.

A new measure from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, however, shows the two GOP candidates in a “virtual tie” at 36 percent support apiece with 28 percent undecided. The Florida Chamber has endorsed Putnam in the primary.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Wilton Simpson committee backs Ashley Moody

Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County circuit judge running for state attorney general, picked up a check this month from a political committee chaired by the Senate majority leader, as she rolled out a new campaign ad.

Moody through her campaign account and the political committee Friends of Ashley Moody raised $92,425 between July 7 and July 13, according to numbers posted on the state Division of Elections website. Included in the contributions was $25,000 from Jobs for Florida, which is led by Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican who is in line to become Senate president in 2020.

That same week, Moody spent $486,370 on a media buy as she introduced a 30-second TV commercial titled “Prosecutor Not a Politician.” Moody faces state Rep. Frank White, a Pensacola Republican, in an Aug. 28 GOP primary, with the winner facing Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat, or Hillsborough County attorney Ryan Torrens in the general election.

Moody’s ad came after a series of ads released by White. White’s ads have charged that Moody as a judge and prosecutor was “soft on child predators” and “liberal.”

White and the affiliated United Conservatives political committee raised $44,025 between July 7 and July 13, including $10,000 from the Florida Prosperity Fund, which is tied to the business group Associated Industries of Florida. Moody’s campaign account and political committee had about $1.7 million on hand as of July 13.

White, who is general counsel and chief financial officer for the chain of Sandy Sansing auto dealerships and has kicked $2.77 of his own money into the contest, had about $2.1 million on hand in his campaign account and the political committee.

Chris King tosses another $1M into gubernatorial campaign

Winter Park businessman Chris King edged out the other four Democrats running for Governor in his new campaign finance report thanks to another $1 million in self-funding.

In addition to the cash infusion, King raised about $15,000 from small-dollar donors between his campaign account and political committee, Rise and Lead, Florida. His expenditures, however, wiped out his gains and then some.

Making up nearly all of his spending for the July 7 through July 13 reporting period were $1.44 million in payments to AKPD Message & Media for advertising. Those payments likely stem from King’s latest TV spot, which features his 9-year-old daughter, Mary Grace.

To date, King has raised nearly $7 million between his two accounts, including $4.5 million in self-funding. He had $511,000 in the bank at the end of the reporting period.

Coming in just behind with his own $1 million check was Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, the late entry into the gubernatorial contest who has until now funded all of his campaign by pulling out his own checkbook.

In addition to continuing his self-funding spree, Greene  has eight contributions from individual donors totaling $150. That falls in line with his early pledge to keep his campaign closed to big-name donors, limiting outside contributions to $100 or so per person.

His campaign also spent a bundle on ads. Of its $925,000 in expenditures, $537,000 paid for a direct mail campaign through Jacksonville-based Street Smartz Consulting, while another $306,000 paid for a media buy through Washington-based The Incite Agency.

In all, Greene has juiced his campaign with $10.6 million — $7.1 million in candidate contributions and $3.5 million in loans. He had $521,000 in the bank on July 13.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is, at least so far, the biggest self-funder in the race. Including a $570,000 loan he made to his campaign in his new report, he has put $12 million of his own money on the line since he first started eyeing the race early last year.

He brought in another $217,000 in outside money for the week, bringing his total haul to $787,000. Most of the outside money came in through his political committee, All About Florida, which received a $100,000 check from Fort Lauderdale-based Schlesinger Law Offices and a $66,000 check from New Leadership for Florida, a political committee chaired by his senior campaign adviser, Christian Ulvert.

Levine’s expenditures also include plenty of ad spending. All About Florida paid more than $200,000 for a mail campaign via The Pivot Group, while the campaign account spent $69,250 on digital ads and $620,000 on TV buys, likely related to the latest ad in his sustained media blitz.

Through July 13, Levine had brought in $20.4 million between his two accounts, including self-funding. His on-hand tally was $934,000 at the end of the reporting period.

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham was in a distant fourth place in the new round of fundraising reports, though her nearly $200,000 in fundraising didn’t include a boost from her own bank account or her father’s, former Governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.

The self-described “PTA mom” showed more than $123,000 in hard money fundraising for the week from more than 1,000 individual contributions, including more than 900 donations from small-dollar donors who gave $100 or less.

The remaining $76,100 in fundraising came in through her political committee, Gwen Graham for Florida. Nearly two-thirds of that cash came in from major Duval Democratic donor Sallyn Pajcic, the wife of Jacksonville attorney and former state Rep. Steve Pajcic.

Spending was relatively light at $169,500. Nearly $124,000 of that sum went to Virginia-based Deliver Strategies for media production, while the remainder was split across consulting contracts, credit card processing fees and travel reimbursements.

Graham’s now raised more than $9.6 million since entering the race. She had $2.4 million in the bank on July 13.

Rounding out the five-way primary field was Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who raised just shy of $99,000 for the week — $20,888 in hard money and another $78,000 via his political committee, Forward Florida.

Gillum, who consistently touts himself as “the only non-millionaire in the race,” brought in his campaign cash across more than 400 contributions from individuals, nearly all of whom gave $100 or less. The committee report, however, was buoyed by a $50,000 check from Quinn Delaney, a major Democratic donor from California.

Spending for the week registered at about $183,000, including a $132,815 payment to Connecticut-based Mission Control for a direct mail campaign. Another $20,000 was spent on signs and $15,000 on printing, with the remainder covering several small expenses.

Gillum, the first-in candidate for Governor, has now raised $4.15 million. He has just shy of $1.5 million banked.

The most recent poll of the Democratic primary race shows Graham and Greene at the top of the heap with nearly 22 percent support apiece, followed by Levine at 19.4 percent, Gillum at 10 percent and King at 3 percent. The race is still wide open, however, as one in four Democratic voters said they didn’t know who they will vote for.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Adam Putnam committee spends more than $2.7M

A political committee that plays a key role in Republican Adam Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign spent $2.73 million during a recent week-long period, with most of the money going toward advertising.

The committee Florida Grown spent the money from July 7 through July 13 and had nearly $8.1 million in cash on hand at the end of the period, according to newly filed finance reports posted on the state Division of Elections website.

More than $2.43 million of the money during the period went to Virginia-based Smart Media Group, LLC for advertising, while the committee sent another $200,000 to the Republican Party of Florida.

Putnam, who is finishing his second term as agriculture commissioner, raised a combined total of $370,000 for his campaign account and the committee during the period. His campaign account had about $4.53 million on hand as of July 13, a report shows.

Putnam is locked in a tough primary race with U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who raised a combined total of about $227,000 during the period for his campaign account and the committee Friends of Ron DeSantis.

The DeSantis committee spent nearly $608,000, with $500,000 going to the Republican Party of Florida, reports show. The committee had $5.61 million on hand as of July 13, while DeSantis’ campaign account had about $1.16 million.

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