Jay Shooster taps out-of-state effective altruism donors to stack $102K in Q1 for House bid
Image via Jay Shooster.

Jay Shooster
He has taken contributions from supporters of the movement since April, 2 months before he officially launched his campaign.

Democratic lawyer Jay Shooster’s campaign for House District 91 added $102,000 last quarter through a flood of personal checks. The biggest came from out-of-state tech professionals involved in a controversial 21st Century philosophical, social and philanthropic movement.

As of April 1, Shooster had nearly 10 times more cash on hand than Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman, the incumbent Republican he hopes to unseat in November.

Shooster’s campaign account received more than 150 personal checks between Jan. 1 and March 31, more than half of which came from Florida donors. The checks ranged from $1 to $1,000, with an average donation of $264.

His political committee, Future Leaders Florida, took in 14 personal checks totaling $60,700. Of them, just two originated in the Sunshine State and added up to $1,700.

Many of the others came from members of the effective altruism (EA) movement with which Shooster has long been involved. In 2019, he gave a lecture on his legal work for animal welfare — a core focus of EA — that the movement partially sponsored. He’s taken contributions from EA members since April, two months before he officially launched his campaign.

Developed during the 2000s and named in 2011, effective altruism advocates for using evidence and reason rather than emotional fulfillment to determine the best way to benefit the world and then act on that basis. Many of its members pursue lucrative professions in order to donate significant portions of their earnings to charity based on the goal of maximizing their positive impact.

EA has been lauded by many as a more data-driven solution for some of the world’s biggest current and future problems and issues, from famine and disease to climate change, nuclear war and advanced artificial intelligence. But others have criticized the movement as pedantically hypermetropic and counterproductive because many of its adherents work in industries that contribute to the existing or potential suffering EA aims to ameliorate.

A prominent member of the movement is disgraced cryptocurrency exchange executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who donated millions to charities and mostly Democratic political candidates before his 2022 arrest and subsequent conviction of fraud, embezzlement and criminal conspiracy. Bankman-Fried appealed the conviction, which carried a 25-year prison sentence, Thursday.

The biggest check Shooster accepted in Q1 was for $15,000. It came from Massachusetts-based software engineer and EA supporter Taymon Beal. Likith Govindaiah, an EA supporter and trader at Jane Street Capital, where Bankman-Fried began his career, gave $10,000.

Others affiliated with the movement chipped in, including California software engineer Jason Clinton, California-based artificial intelligence policy researcher Rosie Campbell and Maryland-based Luke Muelhauser, a senior program officer with EA-focused grantmaking platform Open Philanthropy, each of whom gave $5,000.

So did James Bradbury, an AI engineer in San Francisco cited in EA writing.

Shooster also received $1,000 from Boca Raton Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky through her political committee, Americans for Progress.

Shooster spent $23,000 in Q1, the preponderance of it on consulting. He paid $7,300 to Tampa-based Renaissance Campaign Strategies for “political consulting,” $4,350 to Lawlor Strategies in Denver for “fundraising consulting,” $3,000 to Washington consultant Mark Glusker for “fundraising consulting,” $1,750 to Wilton Manors-based Johnson Strategies for “mail media consulting” and $1,500 to Bluestream Consulting in Fort Lauderdale for “compliance services.”

The rest covered bank and donation-processing fees.

As of April 1, Shooster had $457,000 left in his campaign coffers.

Gossett-Seidman, meanwhile, had $46,300 left to spend after raising $8,500 and spending $11,000 in Q1. Notably, she was barred from fundraising during Session, which ended in early March, allowing her just over three weeks to accept donations before the quarter ended.

Twelve people, all Boca Raton residents, gave to Gossett-Seidman. Their checks ranged from $25 to $1,000. Her average direct donation was $127.

She enjoyed some corporate and political support. Loxahatchee-based Closter Farms kicked in $2,000. The Geo Group, a private prison operator headquartered in HD 91, gave $1,000. So did the Fort Lauderdale-based Florida Health Care Executive PAC, Florida CPA PAC, West Palm Beach-based Americas Exports Corp. and A Stronger Florida, a political committee chaired by Rubin Turnbull and Associates Director of Operations Celeste Camm.

Gossett-Seidman, a former Highland Beach Commissioner and sportswriter, also reported $6,000 worth of in-kind aid from the Republican Party of Florida for polling services.

Most of her spending went to Tampa-based consulting firm SimWins LLC. The rest covered bank and donation fees.

Shooster’s lone Primary opponent, Boca Raton insurance agent and entrepreneur Michaelangelo Hamilton, filed his first campaign finance report since entering the race in January. It included a $200 self-loan.

HD 91 covers a southern portion of Palm Beach County including Boca Raton and parts of Highland Beach and West Boca. Previously a dependable Democratic stronghold, the district grew more conservative after redistricting in 2022.

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

Candidates faced a Wednesday deadline to report all campaign finance activity through March 31.

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.


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