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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Big business still filling state GOP coffers



If Florida's political landscape is any test, neither the recession, unemployment nor the state's fiscal crisis has hurt political donations.

The Republican Party of Florida collected a record $3.4 million in the second quarter, between April 1 and June 30, exceeding donations from every off-year election during the same period since 1997, when Republicans took control of the Legislature.

The Florida Democratic Party didn't have the same success, raising just $1.1 million, nearly identical to what it raised the past two off-year election cycles during the same quarter. This year, however, $426,000 of its collections came from a political action committee formed by Republicans to elect Alvin Brown, the Democratic mayor of Jacksonville.

The largest donations to Republicans came from the state's electric monopolies, health care companies, hospitals and insurers. The biggest sum came from Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy and its affiliate Florida Power & Light Co. which contributed $280,000. U.S. Sugar Corp. and its affiliates gave $275,000. Individuals and companies affiliated with Anderson Mining gave $190,000. Tenet Healthcare Corp. contributed $160,000. TECO Energy gave $145,000. And HCA and several of its Florida affiliates gave Republicans $110,000.

The largest Democratic Party donor was a group called Conservatives for a Better Jacksonville. It gave $426,000 to successfully elect Brown. The group was financed primarily by Republican fundraiser and former St. Joe Co. head Peter Rummell. Other major contributors to the Democratic Party included Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, which gave $124,624, and the Florida Police Benevolent Association, which gave $41,000.

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[Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 8:58am]


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