GOP Senate Campaign PAC channels big money to Jimmy Patronis’ fundraising arm

From left: Commissioner of Agriculture-elect Nikki Fried (D), Attorney General-elect Ashley Moody (R), Lieutenant Governor-elect Jeanette Nunez (R), Governor-elect Ron DeSantis (R), and current and elected Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis (R). The public officials sat at the front of the Senate chamber during the 2018 Senate organizational session Tuesday, Nov. 20, in Florida's Capitol building in Tallahassee. CD Davidson-Hiers/Florida Phoenix

Contributions spiked during July for Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ Treasure Florida political committee, predominantly courtesy of a $120,000 gift from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

That contribution, from a PAC chaired by Senate President Bill Galvano, was the largest to any single member of Florida’s independently elected state Cabinet, according to records maintained by the Florida Division of Elections. Patronis and Galvano are Republicans.

“The contribution is an accounting for media buys made by the FRSCC last cycle,” Galvano aide Katie Betta said via email. The money represents an installment against $3.2 million that Patronis gave the committee, which qualifies for cheaper ad rates, for advertising on his behalf during the 2018 election cycle.

Treasure Florida’s total haul for July was $151,500. Contributions totaled $510,050 for the year to date and nearly $5.4 million since it began reporting in August 2017.

The second-biggest gift to Patronis’ committee was $10,000 from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc. (Patronis oversees the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.) The biggest category of contributors was the funeral industry – cemeteries and funeral homes gave 11 gifts totaling $12,500. Patronis regulates that sector through the state Division of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services.

Florida Consumers First, a committee established by Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried, raised exactly $55,943.36 during July, around $243,000 in the year to date, and more than $1.6 million since May 2018.

Its biggest gift during July was $15,000 from Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, a national beverage distributor with outlets in Florida. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Disney Worldwide Services Inc. together gave in excess of $17,000.

Sunfest Herbs Inc., an “organic herbal shop” based in Coconut Grove, according to elections records – and whose website features products containing cannabis – gave $10,000. Robert Tornello, a founder of 3 Boys Farm in Ruskin, which owns a medical marijuana treatment center license from the state, gave $250.

Fried, the lone Democrat on the Florida Cabinet, is a former medical marijuana industry lobbyist and the issue featured prominently in her campaign last year. She’s encouraged an emerging non-psychoactive hemp industry.

Friends of Ashley Moody, Florida’s Republican state attorney general, reported a single gift in July of $5,000 from Visa. Moody’s PAC has raised $30,000 thus far this year and $5.2 million since June 2017.


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