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Republican party, Rick Scott's inaugural committee rake in big bucks

TALLAHASSEE — Fundraisers for Rick Scott's inaugural committee did double duty last month, raising money for the new governor's three-day inaugural bash but also asking donors to write a second check to replenish the state Republican party's depleted coffers after the November elections.

The result from those double donors: $3 million to the inaugural committee and another $3.4 million to the Republican Party of Florida. The money given to the RPOF included 61 checks of $25,000 or more from some of the state's largest corporations.

Scott limited contributions to his inaugural celebration to $25,000, but donors were given a second chance to exceed their contribution — by donating to the party — and dozens of them did, according to a review by the St. Petersburg Times /Miami Herald.

"Any folks that could re-establish a balance to the coffers of the party were encouraged to give," said Brian Ballard, chairman of the finance committee for Scott's inauguration. "There was no coordinated attempt to raise money for the party, but there was no effort to not do it."

Most companies sent checks to the inaugural committee within one or two days of sending checks to the RPOF, according to the fourth quarter reports that stretch from Oct. 29 through Dec. 31, 2010.

Contributors to both causes include a list of the most powerful special interest groups in Tallahassee: health insurers, utilities, sugar, tobacco, gambling, telecommunications, lobbying firms, entertainment moguls and developers.

Some donors were able to exceed the contribution limits to the inaugural by giving both individual and business donations. Florida Crystals, the sugar and agribusiness giant with interest in alternative energy and development, gave the party $200,000 then used three of its subsidiaries to contribute another $75,000 to both the inaugural and RPOF.

It's competitor, U.S. Sugar, the beneficiary of the $197 million Everglades land deal with the state, wrote checks valued at $175,000 to the party and gave one $25,000 check to the inauguration. Scott criticized the U.S. Sugar deal during his campaign, claiming the deal mainly benefited U.S. Sugar, not Everglades clean-up.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, the largest health insurer in the state, also donated heavily to the party with a massive $525,000 contribution.

Contributions to both the inaugural and the party weren't limited to big donors, however. Hamilton Risk Management, a Miami company, gave $1,000 to the inauguration on Dec. 20 and $1,000 to the party on Dec. 21.

"There was a need to get the party back on good financial footing after the inauguration," Ballard said. "These dollars weren't being spent on inaugural activities."

But rather than save all the money for future campaigns, the party spent just as much as it raised in the two-month period. The RPOF raised $9.4 million in November and December.

Included in the expenses was $602,000 to Hargrove Inc., the Maryland event company that organized the inaugural events. The media company hired by Scott's campaign, OnMessage Inc., was paid $357,000 and M.A.C Research, a company controlled by Scott's chief policy adviser, Mary Ann Carter, was paid $175,000 for consulting services.

The Florida Democratic Party — which lost the governor's race, every statewide cabinet race and several key congressional contests — raised only about $1.1 million in the last two months of the year and spent about $1.6 million, mostly on staff salaries and campaign consultants and direct mailers.

The largest contributions to the Democrats were $200,000 from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, $295,000 from labor unions, and $82,000 from attorneys.

Eric Jotkoff, Democratic Party spokesman, criticized the RPOF's expenditures for the final two months of last year, and accused Republicans of using their donations to offset the cost of Scott's inaugural party.

"Clearly, unless they were breaking the law by spending money on behalf of candidates who had already been elected, most of the money was spent to let Rick Scott live large," Jotkoff said. "He clearly had one of the most lavish inaugural parties in the country."

Staff writers Marc Caputo and Katie Sanders contributed to this report.

Donors to Gov. Rick Scott's inaugural committee gave nearly $3 million in cash to his three-day celebration and another $3.4 million to the Republican Party of Florida. Here is a list of some of the contributors to the inauguration and what they gave to the RPOF:

$25,000 inaugural contributors and their gift to RPOF

• 21st Century Oncology — $25,000

• Agro-Industrial Management, subsidiary of Florida Crystals, sugar and energy — $25,000

• Altria, tobacco — $25,000

• AT&T — $25,000

• Bernard Klepach, head of Duty Free Air & Ship — $25,000

• Duty Free Air & Ship — $25,000

• Blue Cross/Blue Shield, largest health insurer in Florida — $525,000

• Council for Senior Floridians, nursing homes — $20,000

• CSMB Condominiums, real estate — $25,000

• Disney Worldwide, tourism — $25,000

• Dosal Tobacco, tobacco — $20,000

• Florida Concrete Products, development — $25,000

• Florida Crystals, sugar, energy — $200,000

• Florida Credit Union PAC — $25,000

• Florida East Coast Industries, rail — $25,000

• Florida Jobs PAC, Chamber of Commerce, undisclosed business, health care, energy groups — $30,000

• Florida Pioneer Investments, subsidiary of Florida Crystals, sugar, energy — $25,000

• Florida Transportation Builders, roads — $25,000

• Florida Medical Assn. — $25,000

• Foley & Lardner, law firm — $25,000

• John French, tobacco lobbyist — $25,000

• Green Solar Transportation, health care, energy — $25,000

• GTECH, gambling — $25,000

• Holland & Knight, law firm — $45,000

• Houghton Mifflin, textbook publishers — $25,000

• Huizenga Holdings, waste management — $25,000

• Wayne Huizenga, waste management — $75,000

• Impact, insurance — $30,000

• Intervest Construction, developer — $25,000

• Gary Kompothecras, chiropractor — $25,000

• Las Vegas Sands Corp., gambling — $25,000

• Ned Lautenbach, Naples equity investor — $25,000

• Liberty Partners, investment — $25,000

• Morgan & Morgan, law firm — $30,000

• Gary Morse, developer of The Villages — $25,000

• The Villages, development — $25,000

• Neal Communities, developer — $25,000

• Office Depot, office products — $30,000

• Thomas Petway, insurance — $25,000

• Pitney Bowes, mailing systems — $25,000

• Preferred Care Medical, health care — $35,000

• Principal Investment, investments — $25,000

• Progress Energy — $25,000

• Realtors PAC, real estate — $45,000

• Risk Management Associates, insurance — $25,000

• Francis Rooney & Rooney Holdings, gambling and development — $50,000

• Wayne Rosen, health care — $20,000

• Seminole Tribe of Florida, gambling — $25,000

• James Seneff, developer — $25,000

• Settlement Funding, insurance — $25,000

• Robert Stork, engineer — $25,000

• Sun Corn, Inc., sugar, energy, subsidiary of Florida Crystals — $25,000

• TECO Energy, energy — $30,000

• The Geo Group, private prisons — $82,000

• St. Joe Company, developer — $25,000

• Tripp Scott, law firm — $25,000

• U.S. Sugar, sugar, development — $175,000

• Richard Ullman, health care — $25,000

• United Automobile Insurance, insurance — $25,000

• Universal City Development, Universal Studios — $25,000

• Ronald Wanek, furniture — $25,000

$15,000 inaugural contributors and their gift to RPOF:

• Carlton Fields, law firm — $15,000

• Miles & Parker Collier, Naples developers — $25,000

• Diego North America, alcohol — $40,000

• Global Tel Link, telecommunications — $15,000

• JM Family Enterprises, auto dealer — $30,000

$10,000 inaugural contributors and their gift to RPOF:

• A. Duda & Sons, agribusiness — $10,000

• Aetna, health care insurance — $10,000

• Alerman Senterfitt, law firm — $35,000

• Associated Industries of Florida, undisclosed business groups — $50,000

• AvMed, health care — $10,000

• Caspers Company, restaurants — $10,000

• Cenetene Management, health care — $10,000

• FCCI Services, insurance — $10,000

• Florida Bankers Assn., banking — $10,000

• Florida Emergency Physicians — $10,000

• Florida RV trade assoc. — $10,000

• Fort Knox storage center — $10,000

• Fowler, White & Boggs, law firm — $10,000

• GL Homes, developer — $10,000

• GMRI restaurants — $10,000

• Gulfstream Park racetrack & Mardis Gras Casino, gambling — $35,000

• Heffley & Assoc., lobbyist — $10,000

• Keiser University, for-profit education — $10,000

• Mabry Carlton Ranch, ranching — $10,000

• Maloof Enterprises, consulting — $10,000

• MCNA Dental Plans, health care — $10,000

• Peace River Citrus Products — $10,000

• Pfizer, pharmaceuticals — $10,000

• Radiology Imaging, health care — $10,000

• Robert & Karen Scott — $10,000

• Verizon, telecommunications — $12,500

• Wal-Mart, retail — $15,000

• Wellcare, health care — $10,000

Sources: Republican Party of Florida quarterly filings, Rick Scott Inaugural Committee

Compiled by Mary Ellen Klas

Republican party, Rick Scott's inaugural committee rake in big bucks 01/17/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 17, 2011 8:39pm]
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