Elections panel issues $21K fine to committee connected to Associated Industries of Florida

campaign finance
Floridians for Economic Advancement sent $85K to another political committee in January 2021, but didn't report it for nine months.

The Florida Election Commission has issued a $21,250 fine to a political committee that has received more than $1.7 million from entities connected to Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) in the last four years.

The sanction stems from an $85,000 transfer from the Floridians for Economic Advancement committee to Citizens for a United Florida Inc. in January 2021. The transfer wasn’t reported in the committee’s finance reports to the state until November 2021.

Floridians for Economic Advancement has received $5.8 million and spent $5.6 million since it was created in 2018, with $1.7 million, or nearly 30%, coming from AIF-affiliated committees. AIF, though, says it doesn’t control Floridians for Economic Advancement and doesn’t direct its expenditures.

Yet for such a sophisticated operation to have such a large payment go missing for nine months is suspicious, Commission Chairman Nicholas Primrose said.

“In other months when you’ve got multiple expenditures coming in and those all get reported, fine, but when it’s one particular contribution from one (political committee) to another that doesn’t get reported — that tells me it was intentionally not reported for months because this PC didn’t want anyone seeing the money. That’s what it tells me,” Primrose said.

Commissioner Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a former Lieutenant Governor under Gov. Rick Scott, agreed with that assessment.

“It’s a savvy committee … they know what they’re doing,” Lopez-Cantera said. “This was something that was done so someone wouldn’t see it.”

The Chair and Treasurer of Floridians for Economic Advancement, Margaret Frison, didn’t attend the hearing. But the committee’s attorney, Nicholas Fugate, said that because the payment appeared in the other committee’s finance reports, it shows there wasn’t an intent to hide the payment, just an oversight.

“The counter to that is the other PC actually did report,” Fugate said. “Had there been any nefarious notions of hiding this from being reported or being put out there it would’ve been a concerted effort to not have it out there on either report.”

But Lopez-Cantera noted that just because the payment shows up on Citizens for a United Florida Inc.’s reports now doesn’t mean it was filed on time.

The Commission unanimously voted to uphold the fine, which was automatically issued by the Division of Elections in December 2021. A formal order assessing the fine should be issued in about 15 days.

Delaying such a large payment for so long defeats the purpose of state laws requiring transparency in campaign finance reporting, Primrose said.

“Let’s just be completely frank, the PC that got that $85,000 probably the next month went and transferred it somewhere else and we’ll never know the purpose of what it was going to,” Primrose said.

Citizens for a United Florida Inc. made minimal expenditures in the following two months after receiving the $85,000 contribution from Floridians for Economic Advancement. But in April 2021 it sent $80,750 to Florida Consumers First, a political committee controlled by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat running for Governor, and $9,000 to the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee.

The Commission, though, also nixed another $2,500 in collective fines against five other AIF-affiliated political committees.

The Associated Industries of Florida Political Action Committee, Florida Prosperity Fund, Voice of Florida Business Political Action Committee, Floridians for a Stronger Democracy and Floridians United for our Children’s Future all reported making a clerical error for the Special Elections in House Districts 88 and 94 in January, resulting in the reports being filed two weeks late.

Lopez-Cantera moved to waive the fines and the commission unanimously backed the proposal.

Gray Rohrer


2 comments

  • Elliott Offen

    August 16, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Vote RED for abominable grifting and chicanery
    Vote RED for capitalist schemes and scams
    Vote RED for shoveling money to the rich
    Vote RED for far right propaganda
    Vote RED for forced birth of meth babies and crack babies AkA the future of the GOP

  • Al

    August 16, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    I looked at some videos ..
    And all I have to say is that your lips are moving but I can’t hear what you’re saying m

Comments are closed.


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