Republican U.S. Rep. Ross Spano is getting attacked from the right in a new TV ad running Florida’s 15th Congressional District.
The ad paid for by WingmanPAC, focuses on the loans Spano accepted from friends during his 2018 congressional campaign. Spano borrowed $70,000 from Karen Hunt and $110,000 from Cary Carreno through four personal loans, then contributed the money to Ross Spano for Congress.
The scheme skirted campaign finance rules that cap contributions from individuals at $2,700 per election. There is an ongoing Department of Justice investigation into the loans.
“Corrupt Congressman Ross Spano, under criminal investigation by President Trump’s Justice Department,” the ad narrator says before cutting to local news coverage and a clip of Spano admitting he funded his campaign with loans from friends.
“That’s illegal,” the ad continues. “Ross Spano says, ‘it was a mistake.’ But lawyer Ross Spano knows it’s illegal. We can’t trust Ross Spano. Vote No on Spano.”
WingmanPAC is airing the ad on cable systems throughout CD 15, which includes Hillsborough, Polk and Lake Counties.
The ad comes after oddsmakers have put CD 15 in play for Democrats this cycle.
The seat was considered a stretch before. Two years ago, well-funded Democratic nominee Kristen Carlson lost to Spano by six points. Spano’s negatives, however, could close the gap for the 2020 Democratic nominee — either Alan Cohn or state Rep. Adam Hattersly, both of whom have proved formidable fundraisers.
Though the ad doesn’t mention Republican primary challenger Scott Franklin, WingmanPAC is backing his campaign.
“From fighting in the Persian Gulf and serving in U.S. Central Command to running a business for 20 years and actively practicing his faith at First Presbyterian Church of Lakeland, Scott Franklin has proven his commitment to country and community,” the WingmanPAC website states. “Scott Franklin’s commitment to us is why we have made it our mission to elect veterans like him to Congress so that we can get Washington working again.”
Franklin, currently a Lakeland City Commissioner, has so far outraised Spano. He has nearly $380,000 on hand, but that includes nearly $140,000 in self-loans. He has also picked up major endorsements, most recently from Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Spano ended the most recent fundraising period with $348,900 on hand but his campaign is saddled with $113,517 in campaign debt, leaving him with about $240,000 to spend.