TAMPA — Charles Brink didn't just put his name in the race for Hillsborough County School Board. He's also loaned $65,000 to the campaign.
The loan — the only money 61-year-old Brink lists so far in his finance reports — makes him the fundraising leader of all 16 candidates who filed so far for three seats in 2014.
Close behind is Michelle Popp Shimberg with $61,368, much of it from family, friends, business associates of her husband and people she has met in her years as a community volunteer.
"I really don't have a comment," Shimberg said when asked about Brink. She said she is trying to get out and meet voters, particularly in the southern Hillsborough portion of District 2. "I have my hands full with my own race."
Randy Toler, one of eight people running against Brink in countywide District 6 now held by April Griffin, said, "You've got to wonder. What's he going to spend it on, TV ads? That's so much for a candidate in a school board race."
Brink, of Westchase, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He is co-founder of the MonaVie beverage company, which flourished with the popularity of acai berries as a weight loss aid.
After selling his MonaVie interest in 2007, he established a family-based charity, the Brink Foundation. In addition to philanthropy, the foundation informs parents about issues in the Hillsborough public schools. Its chief operating officer, Jose Colindres, is a critic of the district who speaks frequently at School Board meetings about personnel actions, spending decisions and the treatment of disabled students.
This is Brink's first bid for local public office, but not his first involvement in politics. In addition to donations to causes including President Barack Obama's campaign, Brink and members of his family have given $5,000 to school board candidates who campaigned as critics of the administration, a group that includes April Griffin, Cindy Stuart and Susan Valdes.
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226--3356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.