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DCCC hammers Ross Spano on latest (weak) financial report

His campaign owes more than it’s worth.

Congressman Ross Spano’s campaign owes more money than it’s worth, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

The second-quarter report filed Monday shows Spano has a little more than $160,000 cash on hand. Spano’s campaign lists more than $176,000 in loan and other financial obligations, putting the campaign more than $16,000 in the red.

The Democratic Congressional Committee called the latest report “one of the most atrocious” reports of any member of Congress. 

The debt obligations include nearly $170,000 in personal loans Spano made during his 2018 campaign when he defeated Democrat Kristen Carlson to secure his first term in office. Those loans were made from money two Spano supporters loaned him, a move Spano himself admitted might have broken campaign finance laws by exceeding the maximum allowable contribution to a federal campaign. 

Spano has still not repaid the loans despite saying he would. The FEC forms show the loans aren’t due until 2021, with the exception of a $70,000 loan that shows a past due date of October of last year. That $70,000 came from a longtime Spano ally, Karen Hunt

Hunt and her husband donated another $2,000 to Spano’s 2020 reelection, reports show.

“Must be nice,” the DCCC quipped in an email highlighting Spano’s latest financials. 

“Ross Spano is one of the most corrupt members of Congress and his woes keep mounting, from FBI complaints to anemic campaign fundraising,” DCCC Spokesperson Avery Jaffe said.

The FEC reports show Spano took in nearly $120,000 in contributions during the second quarter. Of those contributions, 29 were for $500 or less. Only seven were for less than $100. Still, that’s more grassroots support than Spano posted in his first-quarter earnings when there was just one and that, Spano’s campaign clarified, was a test of the campaign’s contribution system.

At least Spano raised more than $0 in grassroots contributions this time — hopefully the whopping 0.3% he received from small donors this time wasn’t also part of a test,” the DCCC mocked in its email. 

Spano’s latest fundraising includes several contributions from the sugar and insurance industries as well as from Duke Energy, Honeywell and Lockheed Martin. 

Right now Spano faces a challenge from veteran Andrew Learned. However, Learned is expected to leave the race to run instead for Rep. Adam Hattersley’s state House seat. Hattersley is expected to run against Spano. 

Spano’s Congressional District 12 includes parts of east Hillsborough County, Lakeland and Clermont. The district leans Republican, but the DCCC is making it a top target due, at least in part, to Spano’s controversial campaign loans from 2018.

Spano’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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