Alex Rizo raises $41K in Q3 with help from casino, optometric businesses

Alex Rizo -- Florida House
More than half his gains came from a business and interest group with ties to billionaire Jeffrey Soffer.

Hialeah Rep. Alex Rizo raised $41,000 in the third quarter of 2023 to defend his seat representing House District 112.

More than half came from two sources: a South Florida casino and a political committee that received most of its cash from the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach and the Florida Optometric Association (FOA).

Billionaire Jeffrey Soffer owns both the casino and hotel.

After spending half of what he gained, Rizo, who chairs the Miami-Dade GOP, had about $119,000 between his campaign account and political committee, Principled Moral Conservatism by the end of Q3.

His largest contribution was a $15,000 check from The Big Easy Casino, a Broward-based business formerly known as Mardi Gras Casino and Hollywood Greyhound Track.

The second largest gain Rizo enjoyed was a $10,000 contribution from Building a Better Florida PC, a political committee chaired by lobbyist Michael Corcoran, the brother of former House Speaker and current Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Of the more than $1.85 million poured into the PC since 2013, about $1.18 million (64%) was from the FOA. Another $330,000 (18%) came from the Fontainebleau, which Rizo and other lawmakers cleared to receive a gambling permit through a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe in 2021.

That year, Rizo also unsuccessfully sponsored a measure that would have enabled optometrists to perform certain types of eye surgery and prescribe medications — a change ophthalmologists oppose.

The bill has yet to return, but Rizo earlier this year voted against a related measure that aimed to ban anyone except osteopathic physicians and medical doctors — which ophthalmologists are but optometrists aren’t — from calling themselves “physicians” in ads and patient interactions.

Lawmakers passed the measure in May, but Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed it the following month, ending the latest chapter in the so-called “eyeball wars” between the two related professions.

Other health care-related donations Rizo accepted last quarter included $5,000 from the Florida Chiropractic Coalition — whose members enjoyed a carve-out in the since-vetoed “physicians” bill — and $2,500 from Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.

Skyway, an air traffic navigation service provider for drones, gave Rizo $5,000.

Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, which as its name suggests represents more than 2,500 general and specialty contractors statewide, gave $2,500.

Fleming Island Republican Rep. Sam Garrison chipped in $1,000 through his political committee, Honest Leadership.

Rizo spent $20,600 between July 1 and Sept. 30. About half, $10,000, went to Conservative Florida, the political committee of Dover Republican Rep. Lawrence McClure.

He gave another $1,000 to the campaign of Homestead City Commission candidate Clemente Canabal, who is heading to a runoff next month against Democratic candidate Toshiba Mitchell. Canabal’s wife is Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, a fellow Republican who chairs the Miami-Dade legislative delegation.

The rest of Rizo’s spending covered campaign and upkeep costs. He spent $8,000 on sponsorship and tickets to a Miami-Dade GOP event in early July. The expenditure was split evenly between his campaign account and PC.

He also spent $885 on emails through Mailchimp and $487 on a mailbox rental at a UPS Store in Hialeah.

A former teacher and administrator with Miami-Dade Public Schools who since 2007 has worked as an education consultant, Rizo won election to the House in 2020, when he defeated Democratic candidate Annette Collazo with 60% of the vote.

He cruised into a second term unopposed in June 2022.

HD 112 covers a northwest portion of Miami-Dade, including most of Hialeah, Miami Springs, Virginia Gardens and part of Miami. The district also contains Miami International Airport, one of the county’s two main economic engines alongside PortMiami.

The Primary Election is on Aug. 20, 2024, followed by the General Election on Nov. 5.

Candidates faced a Tuesday deadline to report all campaign finance activity through Sept. 30.

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

One comment

  • Sofia Nelson

    October 17, 2023 at 7:17 am

    His philanthropic work is commendable. He’s not only successful financially but also gives back to the community.

Comments are closed.


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