Make us your home page

Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Donor returns to aid Gregg campaign



A conservative campaign donor who gave big in last fall’s contentious House District 36 race in west Pasco is making another appearance and looks to be getting local help.

Melbourne-based Carmela Falcone, whose electioneering committee sent out thousands of mailers last summer slamming Democrat Amanda Murphy, is throwing support — and funding — behind Republican Chris Gregg’s candidacy for state House District 36.

Gregg, 44, is running against local party chairman Jim Mathieu, 60, in the Aug. 26 Republican primary. The winner will face Murphy in the Nov. 4 general election.

Falcone’s Citizens for Fairness last fall produced mailers labeling Murphy as out of touch with voters and accusing her of having ties to “Big Insurance” and “Big Utilities.”

Now another group headed by Falcone called Families for Lower Taxes is touting Gregg’s conservative credentials in a pair of political ads that hit Pasco mailboxes this week.

One says “Chris Gregg is the only candidate looking out for our wallets.” The back outlines three steps to save taxpayer money, including “Stop government giveaways to illegal aliens.” The other touts Gregg as a conservative businessman, veteran and family man.

Both say “paid for by Families for Lower Taxes.” A closer look at the group reveals two local connections — including to Shawn Harrison, a former state representative running to recapture the North Tampa House seat he lost in 2012 to Democrat Mark Danish.

Harrison’s group, Committee for an Innovative Florida, gave Families for Lower Taxes $31,000 last month, records show.

A call to Harrison’s Tampa-based law firm to ask whether the funds were aimed at Gregg soley or a range of candidates was not returned. Also, Falcone did not return a call.

Another group with Tampa roots, Working Together for Families, also gave Families for Lower Taxes a hefty donation: $25,000. Officials with that group could not be reached.

It’s hard to tell how much of Falcone’s cash will go toward Gregg’s campaign or other candidates.

Division of Elections records show Families for Lower Taxes spent $45,000 the past few weeks on “media buys” and “printing and mailing services,” but they don’t specify which campaigns the group is helping.

The Gregg mailers show one noticeable difference from the ones slamming Murphy last year: They don’t go after Mathieu, Gregg’s primary opponent.

[Last modified: Friday, August 15, 2014 5:40pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours