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West answers critics with cash

Monday, July 11th, 2011 by John Kennedy

After drawing some questions following what some thought was a tepid first-quarter fund-raising, U.S. Rep. Allen West unveiled a $1.5 million take Monday for his second three months of the year.

West’s campaign said the cash came from 23,500 contributors — what it took as a sign of widespread support for the first-term, Plantation Republican in a Broward-Palm Beach county district that has been a battleground for the past decade.

West collected $433,000 through March, third in the nation among freshmen Republicans. But West also was burning through cash quickly — raising alarms.

The GOP incumbent’s $1.5 million also eclipses the $450,000 second quarter by challenger Patrick Murphy, a first-time candidate who is facing former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel for the Democratic nomination. Murphy’s total topped his $321,000 debut quarter.

Frankel hasn’t reported the latest quarter, after totaling $254,605 through March. But she hinted Monday that she expects to keep pace with Murphy.

Hasner emerges as the half-million dollar man in Senate fight

Thursday, July 7th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Former state House majority leader Adam Hasner said Thursday that he has raised more than $560,000 for his U.S. Senate campaign since jumping into the race in April.

While that trails leading fundraiser, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, whose $900,000 last quarter brings his total to $3.4 million, Hasner said his first finance report will show he is not relying on the special interest contributors his leading rivals have turned to.

Haridopolos has powerful Tallahassee ties; George LeMieux, appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist for a brief turn in the Senate and now seeking a term of his own, was the beneficiary last month of a Washington cash-call hosted by Senate Republicans.

Hasner, of Delray Beach, is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson next year.

“Obviously, we’re not going to out-raise our opponents right out of the gate,” said Hasner adviser Rick Wilson. “One of them is running the Charlie Crist-special interest, establishment campaign plan. And the other one wrote it. Our approach is fundamentally different.”

Hasner said his report, which is to be filed by July 15, will show he has raised money from more than 2,000 contributors, signs that he’s got an “energized grassroots base.” Hasner also says he’s got $460,000 cash-on-hand.

Override urged for leadership funds

Friday, March 18th, 2011 by John Kennedy

A House committee Friday urged lawmakers to override former Gov. Charlie Crist’s veto last year of legislation that would revive so-called leadership funds, strengthening the hand of House and Senate leaders from both parties in raising campaign cash.

The 11-4 vote by the State Affairs Committee broke on party lines, with Democrats opposed. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, were powerful advocates for the fund-raising accounts last year, but were snubbed by Crist.

The governor’s veto may have marked the beginning of his crumbling relationship with fellow Republicans, which concluded with him breaking with the party in April.

But Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, said the legislation is needed to improve “transparency.”

“I think the bill is long overdue in our fund-raising process,” said McKeel.

Republican leaders pushed the legislation last spring amid a fund-raising scandal at the state Republican Party.

Former GOP Chairman Jim Greer, who had been ousted only a few months earlier, was accused of badly damaging the party’s finances with his freewheeling spending and side dealing, which included allegedly secretly earmarking a portion of party funds for himself.

Leadership funds were banned 20 years ago by Florida lawmakers following newspaper reports drawing links between legislation approved and cash flowing into accounts controlled by party leaders.

The new proposal would allow legislative leaders from both parties to continue raising unlimited amounts of campaign cash. But instead of pouring the funds into the state party, they would maintain control.

Supporters, though, said the new step will result in more disclosure, because the leadership funds would be subject to campaign reporting requirements.

Ben Wilcox, of the League of Women Voters, disagreed. He testified Friday that reinstating the funds would feed a “pay to play,” environment in the Legislature.

No longer called leadership funds, the accounts would be dubbed “affiliated party committees,” under the measure (CS/HB 1207).


GOP fundraiser admits guilt in corruption case, says he steered $82K to Mandy Dawson

Thursday, December 9th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Alan Mendelsohn, an influential South Florida eye doctor and prominent GOP fundraiser, admitted in court this morning that he steered $82,000 to former state Sen. Mandy Dawson while she was in office.

Mendelsohn, who pleaded guilty in a federal corruption case, also admitted he skimmed more than $300,000 from political committees he oversaw and failed to report more than $600,000 in taxable income from his lobbying and medical work.

Mendelsohn, a member of Gov. Charlie Crist’s 2006 transition team, said in court today he paid $82,000 to a close friend of Dawson’s and that the money was funneled to the Ft. Lauderdale Democrat whose district included part of Palm Beach County.

Read the full story here.

Could Crist’s money men legal woes harm him?

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 by Dara Kam

National GOP staff breathed a sigh of relief upon Gov. Charlie Crist’s entree into the U.S. Senate race because they believed the governor’s prolific fundraising talents would mean they wouldn’t have to lend a helping hand financially to his campaign.

But that was before three of Crist’s top fund-raisers were targeted in federal investigations in the past nine months.

And now a fourth, Jupiter sports agent and real estate investor Marc Roberts, is facing a federal lawsuit alleging he defrauded a business partner out of $100 million to support his own “lavish personal lifestyle.”

Crist has “never discriminated” in whom he takes money from, said a former state Republican Party staffer with knowledge of Crist’s fund raising. “Now he’s facing the consequences of not being careful. And it raises questions about his judgment.”

Read the whole story here.

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