Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election campaign continues to rake in political contributions each month rivalling what his opponents collected all year.
The Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee so far reported nearly $2.3 million in collections in December. And as politicians make an end-of-year push for dollars, it’s likely that number will grow higher once total figures reveal checks that came in the final days of 2021.
Through Dec. 29, the committee on its website showed a total of $2,276,526 in December contributions. Subtract $251,814 in campaign expenditures and that means the committee netted $1,773,775.
As for the big picture, that means the committee holds nearly $69.3 million in cash of hand. That’s a number expected to grow by the time full December figures get reported to the Florida Division of Elections in early January.
The numbers seem all the more overwhelming when compared to committees backing DeSantis’ chief competitors. Friends of Charlie Crist, the committee supporting Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s campaign for Governor, raised $355,750 in December through Dec. 23, and has reported $3,159,338 in donations since launching in May. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s Florida Consumers First PC, supporting the Democrat’s own bid for Governor, reported $124,404 for December through Dec. 29, and has reported $2,326,143 so far for all of 2021.
DeSantis’ committee so far reported 183 individual contributions, along with seven small refunds. That includes 97 donations of less than $100 from small donors.
But the small checks made up only a portion of the monthly haul for the committee. Five donors provided $700,000 thus far in December. That includes $200,000 from a single source, West Palm Beach-based company Kane Financial.
Two political committees also wrote six-figure checks. The Strong Communities of Southwest Florida PC and The Committee for Justice, Transportation and Business, both chaired by lobbyist David Ramba, each donated $150,000. Floridians for Positive Change and Focused on Florida’s Future PC, two other Ramba-headed political committees, also wrote $75,000 checks to Friends of Ron DeSantis this month.
Thomas W. Smith, a major Republican donor based in Boca Raton, gave $125,000, the largest contribution this month reported so far from an individual.
Wisconsin law firm Foley & Lardner also sent $100,000 to DeSantis’ committee.
A glimpse through some of the other politically notable donations reveals a $5,000 check from Oliva Cigar Company, the family business of former House Speaker Jose Oliva. There are also three $25,000 donations from pari-mutuel gaming organizations in the state — Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, Jacksonville Kennel Club and Orange Park Kennel Club, which all share an Orange Park post office box.
Of note, the committee relied more heavily on Florida support this month than it has much of the year, at least based on what’s been reported on the committee’s website so far. The donations include 137 checks from donors in the state of Florida.
That said, expenditures show the committee spent more than $140,000 in fundraising costs outside the state of Florida, including $37,250 with Arizona-based consulting firm LovasCo, $43,000 with California-based fundraising firm Vandenberg & Associates and $60,150 with California-based Kristin Hueter & Associates.
Fundraising costs made up a majority of spending by the committee reported so far in December, and it could mean there’s yet a rush of support from outside the state waiting to make it into contribution reports.