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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

RPOF has a $3.4 million quarter with biggest checks from energy, health care, sugar and mining

12

July

It's no a secret that in this high-voltage political finance season of Super-PACs, no limit CCEs, and the death of campaign finance limits that if you want the attention of the state's political elites, you write a check. So, in the interest of the full-disclosure, we try here to connect the dots on the second quarter campaign finance reports and the potential pay-to-play agendas at work.

The Republican Party of Florida raised $3.4 million and spent $2.2 million. The Florida Democratic Party raised $1.1 million, $426,000 of it was for a Republican-run political action committee formed to elect Alvin Brown, the Democratic mayor of Jacksonville. The Democrats spent $1.1 millon.

Please help us out with any added details in the comments section:

* NextEra Energy, the parent company of Florida Power & Light, weighs in with the largest donation of the quarter: $250,000 on June 13. FPL also gave $30,000 in June. Their likely top political priorities: passage of legislation proposed last year that would have allowed them to have control of the alernative energy market in Florida and receive full cost recovery for solar power. They also hope for a settlement agreement with the Public Service Commission and the consumer's public counsel that allows them the nearly $1 billion rate increase they are expected to seek in January.

Shortly before the contribution, Gov. Rick Scott announced he had hired Mary Bane, the former PSC executive director under whose direction former Gov. Charlie Crist criticized the PSC for being too close to the utilities they regulate. Two weeks after their NextEra donation, Senate President Mike Haridopolos held a conference call with energy industry interests and announced that pursuing alternative energy, as well as other energy sources, will be a priority next session. He subsequently clarified that will not include oil drilling.

* The next largest contributor was U.S. Sugar, with a $225,000 take. The company was an aggressive back-room player in stopping the conservative Republican push to pass e-verify for migrant workers. The governor, and Senate President Mike Haridopolos (who was also a recipient of U.S. Sugar's cash) backed down and, with the strong opposition of ag-man Sen. JD Alexander, the measure died in the Senate.

* Mining interests associated with Anderson Mining, the phosphate and mining giant, gave the party a total of $190,000. Joe Anderson, retired exec of Anderson Mining Corp., gave $90,000 and his company's Georgia affiliant, Junction City Mining, gave $100,000. The industry worked hard to exempt phosphate mines from the growth management laws called developments of regional impact.

* Miguel B. Fernandez, a Coral Gables-based healthcare investor who last year launched a $20 million fund to invest in startup health care companies in Florida, gave $115,000. Fernandez, who founded and later sold Physician Healthcare Plans and Care Plus Health, leads the private equity firm, according to news reports. In 2010, he wrote a $250,000 check to Gov. Rick Scott's political committee, Let's Get to Work. In 2007, Fernandez also gave $2.5 million to Miami's Belen Jesuit Preparatory School and, in 2004, faced a $133,500 fine from the FEC for funnelling corporate money to Alex Penelas' U.S. Senate campaign in 2004.

* Tenet Healthcare, owners of 10 Florida hospitals, weighed in with $160,000.

* HCA health care affiliates across the state gave $110,000.

* Preferred Care Partners of Miami, which operates Medicare Advantage health plans for senior citizens in the central and south Florida contributed $109,000.

* League of American Voters, which earlier this year ran radio ads in support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, gave $100,000. Source Watch describes the group "as a Washington, D.C.-based organization that runs ad campaigns that reinforce key policy objectives of corporations and the right-wing politicians they back in the U.S." and has "proclaimed that it is "Leading the Fight to Stop the Obama Agenda."

* Private prison giant, the Geo Group, gave the party $100,000. The legislature passed a budget that will privatize 9 Florida prisons.

Here are other top contributors to the RPOF:

* TECO Energy -- $146,000

* Florida Crystals and its affiliate Okeelanta Corp. -- $103,000

* Blue Cross and Blue Shield -- $100,000 -- another potential beneficiary of the Medicaid reform bill

* Health Management Associates -- $100,000 -- the Naples-based hospital chain.

* Akshay Desai, the New Port Richey cardiologist and founder of Universal Health Care Group-- $90,000 -- who was recently reappointed State Board of Education by Scott.

* James Heavener, a real estate investor and founder of a Winter Park film school -- $80,000.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 5:43pm]

    

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