TALLAHASSEE (NSF) – With lawmakers largely sidelined because of a special legislative session, much of Florida’s political money chase in June involved chunks of cash flowing to political committees and parties.
As an example, the “Florida Grown” political committee, linked with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, raised nearly $463,000 in June, according to finance reports filed before a Friday deadline. The committee also raised nearly $287,000 in May.
While Putnam cannot seek another term as agriculture commissioner, he is widely expected to run for governor in 2018. Contributions to the Florida Grown committee last month included $100,000 from J.J. Taylor Companies Inc., a Jupiter-based beer distributor; and $50,000 from the Florida Phosphate Political Committee.
As another example of committees raising cash, “People United for Medical Marijuana,” which is trying to get a ballot measure approved next year to legalize medical marijuana, raised nearly $293,000 in June. The bulk of that money — about $233,000 — came from an Orlando law firm headed by prominent trial attorney John Morgan, according to the newly filed records.
Also, during the final week of June, the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is headed by Senate GOP leaders, brought in $516,000.
The largest piece of that total was a $250,000 transfer from “Innovate Florida,” a committee headed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. But the senatorial campaign committee also received large contributions such as $50,000 from HCA health-care political committees, $50,000 from a Florida Transportation Builders Association PAC and $25,000 from Florida Power & Light.
Meanwhile during June, the Republican Party of Florida hauled in nearly $391,000. That included $150,000 from U.S. Sugar Corp., $50,000 from Duke Energy and $50,000 from Florida Power & Light.
The Florida Democratic Party raised about $281,000 during the month, including $25,000 from Publix and $20,000 from TECO Energy.
The newly filed finance reports show that incumbent lawmakers raised relatively little money during June. Lawmakers met in a special session for almost the first three weeks of the month and were barred from collecting campaign checks during that time.
Among legislative candidates, the largest amounts in June were raised by non-incumbents. They included Sarasota Republican Joe Gruters, who raised nearly $87,400 for his campaign in House District 73, which includes parts of Sarasota and Manatee counties.
Another top fund-raiser was Jacksonville Beach Republican Donnie Horner, who collected $44,450 as he seeks to replace term-limited Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, in House District 11, which includes Nassau County and part of Duval County.
In Senate races, Naples Republican Gary Price raised $36,450 and loaned $15,000 to his campaign as he seeks to replace term-limited Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, in Senate District 23, which includes parts of Collier and Lee counties.
Price is running against House members Matt Hudson and Kathleen Passidomo for the Senate seat. Hudson, R-Naples, did not raise money in June for his campaign — but previously had raised a total of $240,600. Passidomo, R-Naples, raised $1,100 in June and had raised an overall total of $105,785, according to the finance reports, which are posted on the state Division of Elections website.
The News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders contributed to this report.