Michael Barnett laps challenger in Q1 fundraising for Palm Beach Commission

Michael Barnett Facebook
Barnett’s biggest donor previously gave to his opponent.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Michael Barnett added $80,000 to his campaign coffers in the first quarter of 2024 — more than twice as much as his lone challenger.

Barnett, a Republican lawyer and former Palm Beach GOP Chair whom Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed to the County Commission in January 2023, collected $27,000 through his campaign account and $53,500 through his political committee.

His largest donation came from Lewis Stahl, a medical tech and real estate executive who in 2018 pleaded guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He was released after just eight months during the first COVID-19 wave and, roughly two years later, rejoined the Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council as Vice Chair.

Stahl appears to be hedging his bets; he wrote a $5,000 check in the fourth quarter of 2023 to Barnett’s Democratic opponent, Greenacres Mayor Joel Flores.

Thirty-five people donated directly to Barnett’s campaign between Jan. 1 and March 31. He also gave himself $100.

Another big personal check was for $7,500. It came from Stephen Ross, Chair of real estate mammoth The Related Companies and owner of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium.

Barnett also took $7,500 from Hokunani LLC, a Delaware-registered limited liability company listed on Barnett’s register as a Palm Beach Gardens-based real estate business.

Other contributions included $5,000 from Boca Raton law firm Weiss & Handler and $6,000 apiece from Boynton Beach-based Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market and an estate connected to Smith Sundy Growers.

After $21,000 in spending, Barnett had about $135,500 heading into the second quarter of the year. He’s raised $220,500 since filing to run for election in April 2023.

His expenditures last quarter covered event tickets, bank fees, legal fees and campaign contributions to Wellington Council members-elect Maria Atuña and Amanda Silvestri, who won runoff races on April 2.

Flores, whose day job is Vice President of business development and small business initiatives at the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce, raised $38,500 through his campaign account and political committee.

That included 17 personal checks and a blend of donations from real estate, agricultural and law businesses.

Highland Beach Real Estate Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Texas-based Milani Properties, gave Flores $10,000. The Milani family has been trying to stop construction on a beachfront parcel it sold to Palm Beach County specifically for use as a park.

Boca Raton-based Netta Architects gave $2,000. Builders ANSCA and H&S Development Group both kicked in $1,500 through subsidiary companies.

Pahokee-based RC Hatton Farm gave $3,000. The Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, which is headquartered in Palm Beach County, contributed $500.

Flores also received $1,500 from Latino Alliance, a political committee run by GOP consultant Alex Alvarado, one of several operatives who fell under the scrutiny of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office in 2022 for allegedly participating in a so-called “ghost candidate” scheme.

If elected, Flores would be Palm Beach County’s first Latino Commissioner.

Flores has raised $278,000 since filing to run in May. Of that, he had $142,500 remaining at the end of Q1.

He spent about $1,600 in the quarter. The money covered an event sponsorship and donation-processing fees.

On Monday, Flores’ campaign announced that he’d received endorsements from District 4 of the Florida Fraternal Order of Police and Palm Beach County School Board member Alexandera Ayala.

District 3 covers an inland portion of Palm Beach between Florida’s Turnpike and Interstate 95 and from part of Southern Boulevard to Hypoluxo Road. The district consists of Cloud Lake, Greenacres, Glen Ridge, Lake Clarke Shores, Lake Worth Beach, Palm Springs and some unincorporated neighborhoods.

Candidates faced an April 10 deadline to report all campaign finance activities 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.


  • Amy Leigh Hair

    April 15, 2024 at 10:45 pm

    Michael Barnett is one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. He is ethical, conservative, hardworking, trustworthy and an asset to the Republican Party. I served on the REC while he was secretary and later our chairman. He did a fantastic job after Sid Dinerstein stepped down. He has my VOTE. Please support this remarkable man.

  • rick whitaker

    April 16, 2024 at 12:04 pm

    AMY, the second you called barnett a conservative, you just called him a closeminded racist ahole. good luck with your white christian nationialistic racist self. we know what people like you REALLY are.

Comments are closed.


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