MoneyTrack: Who's behind the anti-Jim Frishe ads
One of the hottest primary races in Florida is the Senate primary in Tampa Bay between Republican Reps. Jeff Brandes and Jim Frishe. It's getting nastier by the day as both candidates, and surrogate groups working on their behalf, launch increasingly negative mailers and ads.
But not until now, because of the state's sluggish disclosure requirements, do voters know who's really behind the message that paints Frishe as a tired, entrenched incumbent. The answer: A very powerful slice of the Tallahasse political establishment. Here are some of the political players working to take out Frishe: Senate President Mike Haridopolos; House Speaker Dean Cannon; Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary; Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa; and, of course, Brandes himself.
The race is being watched closely because Frishe is closely aligned with Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who's bidding to become Senate president in 2016. When other lawmakers take aim at Frishe, they're taking aim at Latvala, too.
The hard-hitting anti-Frishe mailer was paid for a group called Accountability in Government, an electioneering group with a Tallahassee address and a Washington, D.C. telephone number. The "group's" anti-Frishe pieces have been out for two weeks, but not until July 13 was the committee required to reveal the sources of its $228,000 in contributions to the public that are paying for a web site and mailers attacking Frishe as ineffective.
Asked this week who's behind Accountability in Government, Brandes said he had no idea."It's a group doing its own messaging, but I have no idea who," Brandes said.
The state elections database shows AIG got $38,000 from Floridians for Liberty, a political fund controlled by Brandes himself (www.floridiansforliberty.com). The committee also received $70,000 from Alliance for a Strong Economy, a political fund controlled by five Republican senators (JD Alexander, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Mike Bennett, Mike Haridopolos and Joe Negron). AIG got $50,000 from Citizens for an Enterprising Democracy, a fund controlled by Dorworth, slated to be speaker in 2014. Another $50K came from the Florida Conservative Leadership Fund, controlled by Young and Rep. Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee ($20,000 of the $50,000 was a loan) and the final $20K came from Cannon's CCE, the Florida Freedom Council.