María Elvira Salazar raises $642K in Q3 to defend CD 27

Big businesses gave big, but hundreds of individuals also opened their wallets.

U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar raised more than $642,000 last quarter to defend her seat representing Florida’s 27th Congressional District through a mixture of individual and corporate donations crossing a multitude of state lines and business sectors.

Salazar’s financial report shows her campaign had more than $806,000 on hand as of last month. The campaign spent about $355,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30 and owes Salazar $372,000, the latest report shows.

Two Democratic challengers have filed to run against her next year: Angel Montalvo, a political newcomer who has raised just under $4,200 since entering the race in July; and Ian Medina, whose Federal Elections Commission records show nothing raised since he filed to run in August.

A third Democratic challenger, Janelle Perez, dropped out of the race last month to instead focus on unseating Republican state Rep. Ileana Garcia in House District 37.

Salazar received about 400 donations, including hundreds from individuals ranging from $15 to the maximum allowable individual contribution of $5,800 — representing $2,900 donations apiece for the Primary and General elections, which the FEC counts as separate races.

She also accepted more than $59,000 from her political committee, Salazar Victory Committee, but returned all but $10,000 before the end of the quarter. Salazar Victory Committee has transferred more than $94,000 to her campaign this election cycle.

Take Back the House 2022, a joint fundraising committee to which she and 78 other Republican Representatives are party, gave $27,000 this quarter. The committee has transferred nearly $139,000 to her this cycle.

Salazar also returned several prior contributions, including over-the-limit donations the FEC flagged in July, and an excessive donation from Colombian lawyer and permanent U.S. resident Abelardo de la Espriella, whose prior ties to socialist Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro drew accusations of hypocrisy from critics.

As has been the case for many other South Florida politicians seeking reelection, Salazar’s war chest continued to add funds from the real estate, construction, development and engineering sector.

She received a $5,800 donation from Robert Rowling, chair and CEO of Dallas-based private holding company TRT Holdings, which owns the Omni Hotels chain, among other businesses. Rowlings’ wife, Terry Rowlings, gave the same amount.

Forough Hosseini, senior vice president of information systems at Florida homebuilder ICI Homes, gave $5,000. Coral Gables-based engineer Carlos Penin gave $3,950.

Larry Mizel, chair of M.D.C. Holdings; Fred Pezeshakan, chair of Naples-based Summit Management Group; and Jorge Sanchez, president of Palm Beach-headquartered SMI Landscaping Architecture, each chipped in donations of $2,000 or more.

Colorado developer Chuck Bellock, who bought a $9 million Palm Beach home last year, was one of several who gave $1,000.

Salazar similarly got big bucks from the banking, accounting, investment and finance sector, including $5,800 donations from Patrick Ryan of Lakewood Ranch-based holdings firm Ryan Holdings, Portage Partners investment firm founder Michael Leffell, National Debt Relief CEO Alex Kleyner, JW Childs Associates Chair John Childs and Rex Sinquefield, whose innovations earned him notoriety as an “index fund pioneer.”

Thomas McInerney, CEO of the Connecticut-based private equity firm Bluff Point Associates, gave $2,900. Russell Greenberg, managing partner of private equity and investment firm Atlus Capital Partners, gave $1,000.

CD 27 covers a large portion of Miami-Dade County, including the coastal municipalities of Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Coral Gables, South Miami, Key Biscayne, Miami, Miami Beach and North Miami Beach, among others, as well as a large swath of the county’s western neighborhoods, such as Kendall, Sunset and Westchester.

The district contains both of the county’s largest economic engines: Miami International Airport and PortMiami. Appropriately, businesses with significant interests at the two hubs opened their wallets.

Micky Arison, the billionaire chair of Carnival Corp., the largest cruise ship operator in the world, gave $1,500. So did his wife, Madeleine Arison.

The American Society of Travel Advisors gave $1,000, as did Eduardo Del Riego, CEO of PayCargo LLC. Air cargo magnate Paul Gartlan gave the same amount.

The medical, pharmaceutical and health care sector also gave big. James Reibell, a retired doctor and former adviser for Medicare and Medicaid under former President George H.W. Bush, gave $5,800. His wife Barbara Reibell, a former public health adviser for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, gave the same.

Joan Carter, president of UM Holdings, a health and fitness umbrella company headquartered in Haddonfield, NJ, transferred more than $2,000 into Salazar’s account. Carter and her husband, John Aglialoro, produced a trilogy of films adapting author Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”

Other donations from the sector include a $2,000 gift from the lobbing arms of the American Hospital Association and multinational pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline.

From the insurance sector, Salazar received $5,000 from a political action committee representing New York Life Insurance, $3,000 from Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem Inc. and $1,000 from State Farm Automobile Insurance.

Telecommunication and technology companies added to Salazar’s coffers as well. A PAC representing Comcast Corp. and NBCUniversal gave $3,500. Another giving on behalf of Charter Communications, which does business as Spectrum, donated $2,500. Dell Technologies PAC gave $2,500. A PAC for Google gave $1,000.

Palmer Luckey, the founder of virtual reality company Oculus and hardware/software company Anduril, which holds government contracts, gave another $1,000. Luckey’s sister, Ginger Luckey, is married to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Donations from food, beverage and supermarket businesses included $5,800 from Domingo Moreira, founder of Miami plantain chips company Havanana’s; $2,900 from Barbara Banke, owner of Jackson Family Wines; $2,900 from Carol Barnett, president of Publix Super Markets Charities; $2,900 from retiree Hoyt Barnett, who shares an address with Carol Barnett; $1,000 from Publix Super Markets Inc. Associates PAC; and $1,000 from a PAC representing Walmart.

Other individual contributions of note included $4,400 from Paul DiMare, president of tomato grower DiMare Fresh, and $2,900 apiece from United Refining Co. Chair John Catsimatidis, Global Steel Dust CEO Russ Robinson and Michael Lanaham, president of Jacksonville-based Lanaham Lumber Co.

The Republican Jewish Coalition PAC gave Salazar $1,877 last quarter. It has given her campaign about $14,000 this cycle. Stand for America PAC, a group run by former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, gave $10,000.

NextEra Energy Inc. PAC, which lobbies on behalf of the Florida Power & Light parent company of the same name, gave $2,500.

Of Salazar’s expenditures, more than $50,000 went to First Equity VMD, an accounting and consulting firm in Miami. Her campaign also paid more than $29,000 to Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Hotlzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC and $19,000 to Miami-based digital fundraising and marketing consulting firm Reach Voters LLC.

Most of her other expenses were for campaign advertising, media, postage, travel, hotels and food, including scores of airfare charges and Uber fees.

She also spent nearly $20,000 to repay American Express charges and more than $2,000 on catering.

Except for two years in which Democrat Donna Shalala represented it, CD 27 has been in Republican hands since it was established in 2013 to reflect the 2010 Census.

Shalala, who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under former President Bill Clinton, defeated Salazar by a 6-percentage-point margin in 2018 to take the seat former GOP Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen had previously occupied.

Salazar, a 59-year-old former TV journalist and author, rallied back, unseating Shalala by about 3 percentage points in a rematch last November.

Shalala told the Miami Herald in January she was considering another run at the House in 2022, including a potential third match against Salazar, but planned to wait and see what the congressional districts looked like after they were redrawn to reflect the 2020 Census.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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