Alex Rizo posts banner fundraising with help from charter school builders, first responders

Alex Rizo
Rizo runs a consulting firm specializing in charter schools and filed a major police bill in September.

Republican Rep. Alex Rizo had his best fundraising month this election cycle in October, when he added more than $41,000 to his reelection bid for Florida House District 110. Much of it came from the real estate sector tied to charter school development, police and firefighter unions, and the health care industry.

Rizo holds more than $112,000 between his campaign and political committee, Principled Moral Conservatism, to defend the seat he won by a 20-percentage-point margin last November.

He’s still unopposed.

His biggest single contribution, a $5,000 check, came from a subsidiary of Miami Lakes-based real estate developer Prestige Companies called East 49th Street LLC.

JJB Investment Corp. and South Florida Racing Association, both subsidiaries of Brunetti Properties, which Hialeah Park President John Brunetti Jr. runs, gave $1,000 apiece.

Real estate investment companies Fairway View Associates and Azalea Village, which are both registered with the Florida Division of Corporations under Stephen Brunetti, also gave $1,000 each.

John and Stephen are the sons of John Brunetti Sr., who purchased casino and horse-racing site Hialeah Park in 1977.

In August, Hialeah Commissioners OK’d plans to build a 343-unit residential development and Mater Academy charter school on the northeast corner of Hialeah Park, whose zoning also allows for hotel, dining and entertainment uses.

Rizo, a former educator, now runs a consulting firm specializing in charter schools and college preparatory tutoring. Reforming “the current Florida State Assessments for public schools to a more streamlined, student and school ‘friendly’ system” and advocating “for choice in education” are the top two priorities listed on his campaign website.

AH Investment Properties, which owns a tow yard in Hialeah, gave Rizo $3,000.

More than 20% of Rizo’s gains last month came from trade groups and unions, particularly those representing first responders. Fraternal Order of Police organizations from Miami-Dade and Jacksonville counties gave $5,000. Back the Blue, a political committee run by Joseph Mogavero of the Fort Lauderdale Fraternal Order of Police, gave $1,000.

Doral-based Metro Dade Firefighters Local 1403 donated $1,000.

In September, Rizo filed a bill that would allow police to enforce a 30-foot buffer zone around themselves, making it a crime for anyone to approach officers within that range with the intent of “directly or indirectly” interfering with an officer.

Miami-Dade Commissioners later slapped down a carbon copy of the bill sponsored by Commissioner Joe Martinez, a former police officer and likely future Miami-Dade Sheriff candidate.

Rizo received $1,000 contributions from Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants, CareMax Pharmacy and the lobbying arm of the Florida Dental Association.

Florida Podiatry Political Committee gave $500.

Agents for a Better Florida, an insurance PC chaired by Melbourne State Farm agent Eric Ponce, donated $1,000. So did Florida Agents for Insurance Reform, which Ponce also chairs.

Telecom giant T-Mobile similarly chipped in $1,000, as did Boca Raton-headquartered security company ADT, which holds a 20% share of the interactive security market.

Other $1,000 donations came from Miramar-based Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, Kissimmee-based agriculture group Florida Cow PAC, Boca Raton-based prison operator The Geo Group, the Florida Independent Automobile Dealers Association and billionaire philanthropist William F. Austin, the founder, owner, chair and CEO of global hearing aid manufacturer Starkey Hearing Technologies.

Rizo spent modestly last month, less than $3,000. More than half went to a “sponsorship” fee for the Miami-based Christian Family Coalition of Florida, a group that “works to introduce pro-family legislation at the state and local levels of government.”

He donated $1,000 to the campaign of Eddie Santiesteban, who placed third in the Nov. 3 race for Hialeah City Council.

Rizo paid Miami-based consultant David Custin $259 through his firm, DRC Consulting.

His ledger also includes a $16.45 payment to T-Mobile for a “campaign cell phone.”

HD 110 covers a conservative strip of Miami-Dade County west of Opa-locka Executive Airport that contains parts of Hialeah and Miami Lakes. The district will have remained in Republican hands for 40 years by the time voters hit the polls on Election Day next year.

Candidates faced a Wednesday deadline to report all campaign finance activity through Oct. 31.

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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