Cashing In: Lawmakers rake in CCE money
In the latest election cycle, dozens of Florida legislators raked in $6 million in special-interest campaign money and spent a good deal of it on themselves for meals, rental cars, plane trips and hotels.
Some lawmakers are feeding at the trough of contributors, enjoying expensive dinners at upscale restaurants with donors' money at a time when one of every 10 Floridians is on food stamps. Others are churning cash from one political committee to another, using it to finance direct contributions and attack ads for other candidates, thereby strengthening their own clout in a virtually untraceable shell game.
Some findings of a Times/Herald report:
- The Hospital Corporation of America, a major hospital chain seeking to change the way more than $1 billion in hospital money is awarded each year, donated the most money to the committees: $269,500 in the past two years. HCA also donated an additional $865,000 to other committees and to individual lawmaker campaigns in the same two-year period.
- U.S. Sugar Corp. of Clewiston, which has hired 41 lobbyists in seeking to sell much of its land to the state, is next with $226,260. It donated an additional $365,000 to lawmakers and other political groups this election cycle.
- AT&T, which is seeking favorable phone legislation this year, was the No. 3 contributor with $151,500.