Why Ray Rodrigues returned contributions from Senate GOP leaders
Ray Rodrigues. Image via Colin Hackley.

The Senator returned $3,000 from committees tied to Ben Albritton, Debbie Mayfield and Kathleen Passidomo.

Sen. Ray Rodrigues received donations in September from political committees run by Senate GOP leadership, but he promptly returned the checks. It’s not a beef with his Senate colleagues, he said.

As chair of the Senate Reapportionment Committee, he doesn’t want any appearance of impropriety.

“I want to make sure I am not doing anything that would appear to be a conflict,” the Estero Republican told Florida Politics. “That includes accepting money from folks whose districts I was drawing.”

Republican Leader Debbie Mayfield’s Conservatives for Good Government committee donated $1,000 to Rodrigues’ campaign on Sept. 8. So did Working Together For Florida PAC, the committee associated with Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, who is in line to be Senate President if Republicans maintain control of the chamber in 2022.

Rodrigues returned both checks on Sept. 28.

The campaign also received a $1,000 check on Sept. 30 from Advancing Florida Agriculture, the committee associated with Sen. Ben Albritton, the next Republican in line to be Senate President. Rodrigues said that check has been returned as well, though it won’t be reflected until the next monthly report.

All three senators whose checks were returned are part of GOP leadership, but Rodrigues said he’s adopting a policy of not accepting contributions from any lawmakers who will be impacted by the redistricting process.

“At least until we are done with redistricting and the courts have approved the maps, I won’t take a campaign check or check from a sitting legislator,” Rodrigues said.

The same goes for Rodrigues’ own political committee, Friends of Ray Rodrigues. None of the $15,000 raised by that committee in September came from lawmakers.

The three returned checks from Rodrigues’ candidate account constituted $3,000 of the $8,500 raised over the course of the month.

For this campaign cycle, he has raised $27,100 (adjusting for the refund of Albritton’s donation) and has $6,133 in cash on hand.

Rodrigues was elected to the Senate in 2020 in bright red Senate District 27, where he won with nearly 61% of the vote. Of course, that predated redistricting, and the tilt of the district after this process is anyone’s guess. All members of the chamber must stand for reelection in new districts in 2022.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]

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