Loranne Ausley doesn’t care who gives her campaign money, according to an answer she gave during a Senate District 3 candidate forum Tuesday.
Forum moderator Jim Rosica, Tallahassee Democrat News Director, posed the question.
“Is there any interest group or org that you will not accept a campaign contribution from?”
Ausley answered simply, “No.”
Given a chance to clarify when Rosica asked, “You’ll take money from anybody,” Ausley affirmed with, “yes.”
Her statements are particularly odd considering Ausley has been under attack from her SD 3 opponent, Republican Marva Preston, over a Paycheck Protection Program loan the Florida Democratic Party initially accepted, but later returned after coming under harsh fire. The loans, forgivable under most circumstances, were meant for small businesses, not political organizations.
Republicans in races across the state, including Preston in SD 3, have been criticizing Democrats for accepting funds by proxy from those federal loans.
Preston campaign launched a TV ad blasting Ausley for accepting PPP funds. Ausley rejected the claim and called on Preston to pull the attack ads.
“Our campaign did not receive any money and this is another page from the Trump playbook of lies and distractions because they don’t want to talk about the issues,” Ausley said. “Now that we know the truth, I hope that maybe Miss Preston will pull these ads and pull these flyers. I get them every day, I get sometimes two or three a day.”
Beyond those allegations, Ausley’s blunt statement that she would accept campaign contributions from anyone is likely to fuel further attacks. Democrats tend to scrutinize campaign contributions to Republican candidates from special interest groups and outside spending organizations. Many go so far as to swear off such contributions.
Not the case for Ausley.
And it’s not as if she necessarily needs the funding.
Ausley has taken in more than $473,000 for her race and another $311,000 in in-kind contributions, almost exclusively from the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. Preston, meanwhile, has taken in nearly $115,000 and another $92,000 in in-kind contributions, mostly from the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. Further, Ausley retains nearly $280,000 in her campaign coffers compared to Preston’s $85,000.
SD 3 is a Democratic-leaning seat that covers all of Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla counties in North Florida.