Bonita Springs chamber executive Tiffany Esposito continues to dominate fundraising in the race for an open House District 77 seat. But her donations still don’t match what pundit Ford O’Connell contributed to his own campaign out of pocket.
Esposito in May raised $34,055, bringing her total fundraising to $122,795 since filing for the seat in March. Ford, in his first fundraising report since filing in May, raised $23,723 in outside contributions. But he also dropped $150,000 through a candidate loan into his coffers.
That means he holds the lead in cash on hand with $173,274 in the bank. But the worth of that depends on his willingness to spend it. To date, he has only spent $449, all on printing with Clearwater-based Mail Medic.
Esposito, by contrast, has $101,371 in cash, but none of it comes from a loan, and she has invested much more in campaign infrastructure. She’s pumped $21,424 into the race so far. That includes more than $2,993 spent with TM Strategic Consulting, run by prominent Lee County campaign consultant Terry Miller. Another $2,500 went to financial consulting with Picotte and Porter.
As for fundraising, the vast majority of Esposito’s money in May came from maximum $1,000 donations, including $2,000 from political committees controlled by Citrus County Senate candidate Blaise Ingoglia. A number of other Tallahassee-based political committees similarly donated, including Florida Campground Political Action Committee, Florida RV PAC, and three committees controlled by health care giant HCA. Doral law firm Greenberg Traurig also donated $1,000.
O’Connell’s donor list, meanwhile, was dominated by wealthy individuals, many from Naples but also from around the country. Some of the donors from Naples include Collier County GOP Chair Frank Schwerin, Realtor Robert Champion and wife, Laurie, furniture designer Charles Stewart and philanthropist Rand Mason. Brewster Holdings and Brewster Maritime Holdings also both made $1,000 donations.
On top of her campaign account, Esposito in May also launched the political committee Tiffany for Florida. The new fund raised $11,500 from five sources as it kicked off, including $3,500 from the Southwest Florida Jobs Alliance, $2,500 from the Florida Police Benevolent Association, $2,000 from Suncoast Beverage Sales and $1,500 from Blue Waters Development Group. Former Westbury Capital Partners CEO Joseph Fogg also donated $2,000.
Meanwhile, Democrat Eric Engelhart added $126 in outside donations in May, as well as another $2,000 out of pocket. He also reported $1,000 in in-kind assistance to his campaign. He started June with $3,766 and has reported no expenditures to date.