A new political action committee created by Amendment 4 backers to support State Attorney candidate Monique Worrell has received more than $2.2 million and spent more than $1.5 million, mostly on television commercials in the Orlando market.
Most of the money appears to trace back to George Soros, the New York billionaire and progressive Democratic backer who invested heavily in Orlando’s State Attorney election in 2016.
Leaders of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Desmond Meade and Neil Volz, chair and treasurer of Our Vote Our Voice Political Action Committee, have all but overwhelmed the advance campaign advertising for Tuesday’s primary in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit State Attorney race. The money was transferred into the PAC from FRRC through a project with Tides Advocacy, and another $1 million from Democracy PAC.
Both Tides Advocacy and Democracy PAC are heavily funded by Soros.
In the last JC 9 State Attorney election, in 2016, other PACs heavily funded by Soros poured $1.4 million into Orlando advertising during the closing weeks, helping elect Aramis Ayala.
Worrell, like Ayala, is an outsider promoting criminal justice reform. Ayala is not seeking a second term and has endorsed Worrell.
On Tuesday Worrell faces retired JC 9 Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr., current JC 9 Chief Assistant State Attorney Deborah Barra, and Ryan Williams, a veteran prosecutor who has worked in JC 9 and now is in Florida’s 5th Judicial Circuit.
Earlier, Williams expressed concerns that Soros might again try to overwhelm the State Attorney contest in Orlando, after Soros paid for some polling and research supporting Worrell.
In comparison to the $1.4 million spent through August 13 by Our Vote Our Voice, Perry has spent about $173,000 on his campaign, Barra about $142,000, Williams about $128,000, and Worrell about $156,000.
The latest campaign finance reports with the Florida Division of Elections, through August 13, show Our Vote Our Voice has spent $1.4 million on television advertising and another $50,000 on radio ads.
The reports show that $1 million was donated to Our Vote Our Voice from FRRC, another $1 million from Democracy PAC, a committee funded by Soros and one of his organizations. In addition, Our Vote Our Voice has received $125,000 from Working Families Party, which has multiple donors; and $100,0o0 from Movement Voters Project, which also has multiple donors.
Last week Meade told Florida Politics he concluded electing Worrell was consistent with FRRC’s mission to restore voting rights for felons, the purpose of the Amendment 4 initiative voters approved in 2018.
“The purpose is to promote the voices of returning citizens,” Meade said. “It’s almost in line with the work that we do with FRRC, to make sure the voices of people who are impacted are heard.”
“We’ve done our due diligence and participated and hosted candidates forums, looking at the totality of everything. What we’ve seen was the policies that Monique is supporting were more reform-oriented,” Meade continued.