Pinellas County businesswoman Audrey Henson reported some hefty donations between her campaign and affiliated political committee during her first two weeks on the campaign trail, including a $25,000 boost from the Florida GOP and a $210,000 drop from a federal super PAC traced back to three donors.
That’s according to the latest campaign finance records released Monday, which covers June 1 through June 17.
Henson, who entered the race for House District 60 at the start of June, was previously running for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Since shifting her candidacy, she has collected $259,300 between her campaign account and affiliated political committee, Friends of Audrey Henson.
About 81% of her total fundraising so far comes from one super PAC, which donated $210,000 to her affiliated political committee. The federal PAC, called the Freedom and Liberty PAC, was formed in November 2021, according to federal election filings. Since its start, the committee has raised a total of $250,000 from only three donors, all from St. Petersburg — Greg Pater, Eileen Pater and Stephen Dehmlow, owner of Composites One.
The only expenditures the committee has reported outside of Henson’s affiliated committee include $25,000 on fundraising consulting and $382 on legal services, each made back in January.
In addition to the PAC funding, Henson’s affiliated political committee also reported four other individual contributors who each donated over $1,500.
As for her campaign account, Henson received a $25,000 drop from the Florida Republican Party, giving insight into the party’s priority of flipping the seat red. She also reported eight other $1,000 donations to her campaign in the first two weeks, as well as a $3,000 loan from herself.
Despite significant gains, Henson spent little this last period, with her campaign only dishing out $2,133, the bulk of which going to her qualifying fee and the remainder on processing fees. Her affiliated political committee saw similar spending patterns, with only $505 in expenditures, all on processing fees.
Henson will enter the next finance period with at least $256,662 — and that doesn’t even include the money from her congressional campaign account. As of the end of March, Henson also had $212,687 cash on hand in her congressional campaign account, according to the most recent data available from the Federal Election Commission.
Henson’s opponent for the seat, environmental scientist Lindsay Cross, raised $5,672 in the same time frame between her campaign and affiliated political committee, Moving Pinellas Forward. Although a small number relative to Henson’s haul, Cross reported more contributors, about 40. Cross only saw one $1,000 donation, from WRB Resources Inc. The remainder were $500 and under.
As for spending, Cross’ campaign spent $1,389 on a variety of different items for a campaign event and marketing. Her political committee only dished out $5 on processing fees.
Since entering the race, Cross’s campaign has raised $166,451, and her affiliated political committee has collected $11,975, in addition to $16,951 rolled over from a previous Senate run in 2018.
The pair will be headed straight into the General Election. The district is analogous to one held now by Rep. Ben Diamond, a St. Petersburg Democrat who also recently exited the CD 13 contest. Diamond has endorsed Cross as his preferred successor.
The Republican candidate will likely need a hefty war chest as she tries to flip the district red. About 54.92% of voters in the newly drawn district voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election, while just 43.51% supported Donald Trump.
June 27, 2022 at 7:00 pm
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