Direct mail round-up: Mysterious mailers from David Rivera’s PAC hammer Kathleen Peters


State Rep. Kathleen Peters is running ahead of the pack in the three-way Republican primary for the District 6 seat on the Pinellas County Commission, but a new set of mailers have been sent out looking to derail her bid ahead of Tuesday’s election.

The first mailer paints Peters as an “Anti-Trump career politician” who has a “dangerously liberal record.” The reverse side of the mailpiece claims Peters raised property taxes by more than 14 percent during her time as South Pasadena Mayor, and that she “spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on lavish trips and hotels.”

The tax claims date back to the Great Recession, when property values in South Pasadena nosedived by $215 million, necessitating a millage increase to keep the municipal government afloat. The trips also look like a spurious claim, the clippings on the mailer show $1,420 in transactions for travel related to her official duties as Mayor — and that was for more than one trip.

The mailers were paid for by Bradenton-based “Florida First,” though the only records of a committee by that name on the Florida Division of Elections website points to a Miami-based PAC headed up by David Rivera. There are no records of a political committee by that name on the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections website.

Additionally, the committee run by Rivera has reported no spending on mailers, nor any spending at all, in its last several finance reports.

Another claim in the mailers is that Peters said, “I’m afraid Donald Trump is going to be president.” That quote is not sourced to any article or social media post and does not list a date. A search for any mention of that statement prior to the mailers going out produced no results.

Peters faces fellow state Rep. Larry Ahern and businesswoman Barb Haselden in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the commission seat. Peters leads the field in fundraising with nearly $160,000 in hard money fundraising and $42,728 banked on Aug. 23. She has another $60,000 on hand in her affiliated political committee, Florida Speaks.

Through the same date, Ahern and Haselden were far off the six-figure mark in total fundraising.

Peters also held a firm lead in the most recent poll. She was the pick for 36 percent of likely Republican voters, followed by Ahern at 26 percent and Haselden at 6 percent.

The winner of the Tuesday’s nominating contest will move on to a head-to-head against Democrat Amy Kedron in November. Kedron is a political newcomer and the only non-GOP candidate to qualify for the race.

District 6 is the only Pinellas County Commission seat that will be on the ballot this fall as no candidates qualified to challenge incumbent Commissioners Dave Eggers or Pat Gerard. They were both reelected without opposition on June 22.

Photos of the mailers are below.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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