María Elvira Salazar posts cycle-best $835K in Q2, ramps up advertising amid Democratic onrushes
What is it with Congress and stock trades?

Two of her Democratic challengers also posted strong fundraising numbers last quarter.

U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar enjoyed a flood of support to raise $835,000 in the second quarter of 2022 — her greatest three-month round of gains this election cycle — to defend her seat representing Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

According to her filings with the Federal Election Commission, she also spent nearly $500,000, mostly on print-based campaign marketing and various consulting services.

As of June 30, the Miami Republican had $1.4 million remaining. That’s more than the combined holdings of her lone Primary opponent and three Democrats vying to challenge her.

Salazar received well over 1,000 donations in Q2. A significant percentage of her contributions came through personal checks of between $10 and the maximum allowable individual donation of $5,800, representing $2,900 donations apiece for the Primary and General Elections.

Contributors who gave maxed-out donations included Blackstone Chair and CEO Stephen Schwarzman and his wife; Arizona Diamondbacks managing owner Ken Kendrick and his wife; Fisher Investments Executive Chair Ken Fisher and his wife; South Florida auto dealership magnate Gus Machado; and Russell Galbut, co-founder of Miami-based development firm Crescent Heights and chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

As she had in quarters prior, Salazar received ample aid from fellow Republicans. Her most significant donation was a $10,300 transfer from the joint fundraising committee GOP Winning Women, which has given her campaign more than $45,000 this cycle.

Political committees associated with U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Martin Marks of Florida; Nicole Malliotakis and Elise Stefanik of New York; Mike Bost of Illinois; Jerry Carl of Alabama; Ron Estes of Kansas; Drew Ferguson of Georgia; Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri; and Adrian Smith of Nebraska each gave four-figure donations.

Unions and trade associations turned out too. The American Society of Travel Advisors donated $4,000 in Q2, adding to $1,500 it had given earlier this cycle. The International Association of Firefighters chipped in $2,500.

Salazar also received $2,000 from the Allied Pilots Association, $1,500 from the National Association of Letter Carriers and $1,000 apiece from the Transport Workers Union and U.S. Travel Association.

Other contributions included $5,000 from the lobbying arms of Honeywell International, $5,000 from The Home Depot, $2,900 from the bipartisan American Israel Public Affairs Committee, $2,500 from Dunkin’ Brands, $2,000 from PricewaterhouseCoopers and $1,000 from American Airlines.

The largest portion of Salazar’s Q2 spending, $175,000, covered campaign advertising. Virtually all of it went to printing and direct mail expenses.

Salazar earmarked just $232 for digital advertising fees paid to Google. Another $12,000 went to digital communications consulting.

She paid $150,000 for other consulting services — fundraising, logistics, political strategy, finance, communication, translation, administrative, legal and “grassroots/field” consulting.

Other expenses included $12,500 for office space, rent and moving costs; $8,000 for travel and lodging; and $3,000 for graphic design services from Florida-based Visual Impact Design.

The remainder of Salazar’s spending went to donation processing fees, email list rentals, a subscription payment to cloud-based campaign management software company CMDI, a campaign phone, food, on-plane Wi-Fi, a $390 “floral expense” and $232 to buy “memorabilia” from the U.S. House Gift Shop.

Democratic Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell, the runner-up in Q2 fundraising for CD 23, amassed $515,000. Nearly 190 people donated to Russell’s campaign, which reported no corporate or organizational donations between April 1 and June 30.

He also spent $317,000, most on consulting and software expenses. Russell has found a campaigning niche on TikTok, a popular video-based social media platform where his short campaign posts regularly go viral.

By the end of June, Russell had about $469,000 remaining of the $1.75 million he raised since launching a bid for federal office last year.

The overwhelming majority of Russell’s donations last quarter were for $1,000 or more and came from the legal and real estate sectors.

That included $5,800 contributions from CMC Group founder Ugo Colombo, Barlington Group founder Bill Fuller, Cary Gonzalez of Caja Consulting Inc., Moss Family Office Worldwide CEO Chad Moss and Dacra President Craig Robbins.

Billionaire real estate investor Moishe Mana, who has bought up $600 million worth of land and properties in Miami, also gave $5,800, as did the vice president of his company, Jay Chung.

Other $5,800 donations to Russell’s campaign came from Reid Boren, Taylor Collins and Kayla Collins of Palm Beach County-based real estate firm Two Roads Development; Vanessa Grout, CEO of OKO Group, and the development firm’s director of finance, Milton Robinson; and Stephen and Kimberly Green of the Green Family Foundation, a Miami-headquartered, family-based philanthropic organization focused on seeding “grants to support holistic programs that empower entire communities.”

Alex and Brian Shack, respectively the chief operations officer and corporate counsel of Miami-based car sales and rental company Braman Motors, donated $11,200 with the help of their wives.

Nearly 80% of Russell’s Q2 spending went to consulting, including $128,000 for event planning and field consulting, $51,000 for finance, legal and management consulting, $46,000 for digital consulting with Denver-based Democratic firm 4Degrees Digital, and $25,000 for general communications and media consulting.

He also spent $21,000 on software fees from Google, Zoom, and political fundraising tool Numero and more than $6,000 on physical campaign marketing materials from Medely-based The World of Signs and Fort Lauderdale-based Gold Star Graphics.

Russell made several donations through his campaign, including $1,500 apiece to the South Florida AFL-CIO and Democratic Executive Committee of Brevard County, $1,000 each to the Miami-Dade Democratic Party and Oakland Park Wilton Manors Democratic Club, $650 to Sean Meloy, a Democratic candidate running for Congress in Pennsylvania, and $225 to the Greater St. Paul AME Church.

The rest of his spending covered food, travel, processing fees, baking costs and a $10,440 qualifying fee that other candidates had to pay

While she fell short of matching Russell in Q2 fundraising, Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami had a solid excuse: She only entered the race last month.

But despite having just 24 days to fundraise, Taddeo, who dropped her gubernatorial bid on June 6 for a run at Congress, managed to put together an impressive $457,000 haul.

She had about $427,000 of that remaining after spending $30,000.

Over 200 people gave to Taddeo last month through personal checks ranging from $50 to $5,800, including many current and former elected officials from Florida.

Among them: U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, Miami Sen. Jason Pizzo, Miami Beach Rep. Michael Grieco, St. Petersburg Rep. Ben Diamond, Pinecrest Council member Anna Hockhammer, former U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, former Pinecrest Mayor and state Rep. Cindy Lerner and former Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorensen.

Taddeo also received donations from political committees associated with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu and Adam Schiff of California, Rubin Gallego of Arizona, Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Patrick Maloney of New York.

Her largest single gain was a $10,000 contribution from the Communication Workers of America, a national union representing workers in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public services and other industries.

Several progressive political committees showed up for Taddeo. She received $5,000 donations from CHC Bold PAC, Elect Democratic Women, EMILY’s List, Hold the House PAC and Italian American Democratic Leadership.

Blue South PAC, which focuses on Democratic victories in southern states, gave $2,500. Giffords PAC, Latino Victory Fund and the League of Conservation Voters each donated $1,000.

Taddeo’s costliest expenditure was the qualifying fee. Besides credit card processing and database service fees, her only other significant expense was a $2,500 payment to Washington-based company Break Something for “digital advertising services.”

Two other candidates are in the race: Democrat Angel Montalvo, who has committed to running a 100% grassroots campaign, and Republican Frank Polo, whose Twitter page includes the hashtag #RINOSalazar, indicating he believes Salazar is a “Republican in name only.”

Neither reported any campaign advertising expenditures.

Montalvo outraised Polo by less than $200 last quarter, bringing in about $13,300 thanks to donations from 12 people who gave him checks of between $200 and $2,800.

After paying his qualifying fee and covering administrative, accounting and consulting costs, he had $2,500 on hand.

Polo raised $13,128 through donations from seven people. After spending more than $14,000, most of which on the qualifying fee, he had $4,600 remaining.

CD 27 covers a large portion of Miami-Dade County, including the municipalities of Miami, Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Key Biscayne, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, North Bay Village, South Miami, West Miami and the unincorporated neighborhoods of Coral Terrace, Fisher Island, Glenvar Heights, Kendall, Olympia Heights, Richmond Heights, Sunset, The Crossings, Three Lakes, Westchester and Westwood Lakes.

Analyses of the district, as redrawn by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, show it is safer than before for Republicans but still the most closely divided congressional district in Florida.

It’s also 74% Hispanic, the highest percentage for the voting age population anywhere in the state.

Candidates faced a Friday deadline with reporting all campaign finance activity through June 30.

The Primary Election is on Aug. 23, followed by the General Election on Nov. 8.

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 Jess[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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