Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly noted that Darryl Shaw, one of Ed Turanchik’s campaign donors, had also contributed to Americans For Prosperity. In an interview Turanchik said Shaw had contributed to AFT (All For Transportation) not AFP (Americans For Prosperity.) The story has been updated to reflect his support from a transportation tax supporter.
Tampa Mayoral candidate Ed Turanchik is getting major support from one of the attorneys representing Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White in his lawsuit against the county and all of its municipalities, including Tampa.
Martin Garcia, a prominent conservative donor and lawyer turned real estate investor, donated $20,000 to Turanchik’s Tampa 2020 political committee on Feb. 9, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Garcia and his family also donated $3,000 to Turanchik’s campaign on April 30.
Garcia, who hasn’t taken a legal case in years, is fighting on behalf of White to overturn the voter-approved transportation and transit sales tax voters approved last month with 57 percent of the vote.
But, Turanchik also received $5,000 from Ybor City land investor Darryl Shaw and $15,000 from Ybor Veradero, a private corporation affiliated with Shaw. Shaw supported the All For Transportation referendum.
Turanchik now says he supports the Hillsborough transportation referendum and will fight as Mayor to defend the will of the voters, but he had been critical of the tax in the past. He said it was ill-conceived because it lacked details on how the money would be spent, and he had concerns about its potential uses and voted against it.
In a Facebook post on his campaign page, Turanchik cautioned voters about the implications of the lawsuit.
“The financial risks are huge. This is because if local government levies and then spends the tax proceeds approved pursuant to this privately drafted amendment, for which the public has not seen a legal opinion attesting to its validity, and it is later determined that the charter violates Florida law, a court could require local governments and taxpayers to refund the billions collected,” Turanchik wrote on Dec. 4.
Some took his post as an acknowledgment that he agreed with the suit, but Turanchik said that’s not the case.
“I wish Stacy had not brought the lawsuit, but he did, so now it needs to get resolved quickly,” Turanchik told Florida Politics.
But Turanchik’s ties to Garcia go further than the transportation referendum. He’s also siding with Garcia on flight patterns affecting Garcia’s waterfront neighborhood near Tampa International Airport. Garcia has long complained to the Tampa Aviation Authority about noise from planes disrupting the neighborhood.
Earlier this month Turanchik posted in the TIA Neighbors Facebook group aimed at getting the airport to mitigate noise. Turanchik lamented his mother-in-law’s home is “the single most impacted home in South Tampa.”
“I am very disappointed at how poorly South Tampa residents have been treated by TIA and our local elected officials on this noise issue. I will stand with my neighbors as your next Mayor, and make sure that plane noise is minimized,” he wrote.
Asked about his ties to Garcia, Turanchik said his stance on the airport issue came about by talking to residents affected by the noise.
“I’m a door to door guy. I get out in the neighborhoods a lot. The residents on the west side of Interbay have concerns about the operations of traffic coming in and out of the airport causing noise impacts that could be mitigated to some degree. I’ve listened to those folks and I’ll be their advocate to make sure the aviation authority is doing what they can to mitigate the noise effects,” Turanchik said.
Turanchik denies any allegiance to Garcia over his sizable contributions to his political committee and campaign.
“I have been involved in community stuff and I’m pretty sure people understand I follow my own compass and I’m not going to do something for someone because they contributed and I’m certainly not going to be against someone because they didn’t,” he said.
Turanchik called Garcia’s involvement in fighting the transportation tax Garcia’s “own thing” and said he was not involved in helping Garcia’s case.
On Shaw’s contributions to his political committee, Turnanchik said that was just an example of how people from all political affiliations trust his track record, vision and integrity.