Consultant distributing misinformation to hurt Erika Booth has history of Democratic support

Jeremy Fetzer copy
In the HD 35 election, he has a committee that endorsed Scotty Moore.

The man behind two political committees sending out contradictory messages about Republican Erika Booth has a history of working with Democrats.

Jeremy Fetzer, an Orlando political activist, registered to vote without a party affiliation. But in the past, he has chaired committees backing Democratic candidates.

Most recently, Fetzer’s activities earned attention for messaging to hurt Booth in the House District 35 Special Election. He founded CFL Green Initiative Coalition, which endorsed Booth while listing positions she does not hold. Then another committee run by Fetzer, Florida Back The Blue, attacked Booth over the CFL Green Initiative endorsement.

Republican leaders publicly condemned the tactic.

Florida GOP Chairman Christian Ziegler issued a Republican voter alert to those living in HD 35.

“A shady PAC is spreading phony attacks in order to deceive Republican voters,” Ziegler posted on X. “In Democrat-like fashion, the tactics by the Florida Back The Blue PAC ignore reality and instead, leverage lies to falsely smear one of our Republican candidates. Republicans should be on the alert as this PAC moves forward.”

Fetzer maintains his political activity follows the law, and he asserted it’s no different than other political consultant tactics. He also said his political committees operate primarily with money he provides out of pocket.

“I’m Joe Q Public, with my own money using legal and extraordinary measures to ensure my community has the best representative who actually cares about our community,” Fetzer texted Florida Politics.

But committees under his control have drawn from outside contributions.

A look at Florida Back The Blue’s financial records show money from two sources. Fetzer provided $1,000 to the committee early this year. Then in March, People Over Politics — Florida donated another $11,000. But that’s also a committee chaired by Fetzer.

Operating since 2020, People Over Politics — Florida has raised $22,575 over its lifetime. Of that, $5,075 was donated directly by Fetzer. Another $1,000 came from Felix Ortiz, a former Kissimmee City Commissioner who lost re-election in August. While that was a non-partisan race, Ortiz is a registered Democrat.

The committee reported a $3,000 donation from King and Carpenter Strategies, a marketing firm registered to Osceola School Board member Jon Argüello.

Notably, Argüello has rushed to Fetzer’s defense on Twitter as well and criticized Booth. Both he and Booth serve on the School Board together. While Argüello is registered as a Republican, he donated money to People Over Politics — Florida while his sister, Democrat Jennifer Argüello ran for another seat on the School Board. The committee sent out mailers attacking another candidate in the race, Terry Castillo, though Fetzer said he personally supported a third candidate, James Nickles.

The remaining $13,500 reported in donations for People Over Politics — Florida, all given this year, came from Citizens for a Greater West Orange, a developer-funded firm ironically listing Tallahassee lawyer Richard Coates as its registered agent. Coates sent a cease-and-desist letter on behalf of Booth regarding the recent electioneering by Fetzer’s other political committees.

Fetzer said as it happens, the donations from Citizens for a Greater West Orange were used to attack a Democratic candidate running for Ocoee Mayor.

But donations made since the end of June won’t be made public until October, weeks ahead of the Nov. 7 Republican Primary in HD 35. Notably, Fetzer’s Florida Back The Blue committee endorsed Scotty Moore, a former Republican congressional challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, for the race. Fetzer has also personally promoted Moore on his own social media.

But Fetzer’s People Over Politics — Florida committee’s Facebook page has also promoted other Osceola Democrats.

The committee’s Facebook page attacked School Board member Heather Kahoun, seemingly to aid political opponent Will Fonseca. In that nonpartisan race, both candidates were registered Democrats. Kahoun won.

Fonseca was supported by United For Progress PAC, a committee funded by famously liberal donor George Soros.

But Fetzer said he’s not a partisan and has supported Republicans and Democrats in the past.

Fetzer said he also supported a Republican, Debbie Mann, running against Booth in her School Board race, and asserted he should not be seen as a Democratic operative. Years ago, he said he worked for Republican state Sen. Paula Dockery‘s gubernatorial campaign; Dockery has since switched parties.

He said he most takes issue with Booth being the choice of establishment Republicans in Tallahassee.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


2 comments

  • Trevor Morris

    September 3, 2023 at 12:32 pm

    That’s rich. Spend time writing about perfectly legal tactics of Florida Democrats, while saying nothing about the blatantly illegal tactics of Florida Republicans and their chief criminal Christian Ziegler. I guess it is because we know Republicans can get away with illegal activities in Florida since DeSantis will just replace the prosecutor if they try to prosecute Republicans.

  • Tjb

    September 3, 2023 at 1:00 pm

    Fetzer is doing what the Republicans do. Chairman Christian Ziegler will be hiring this consultant for the his 2024 candidates.

Comments are closed.


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