On June 30 of last year, Florida House candidate Adam Anderson got a $1,000 political contribution from a charitable foundation his family started that says all its proceeds go to fighting Tay-Sachs disease.
More than a year later, his campaign returned it.
“The AJ Anderson Foundation payment was an oversight by our treasurer and should not have been reported,” Anderson wrote in an email when asked about the donation, which was returned on July 15.
Anderson, a Republican, did not respond to questions seeking to clarify the nature of the oversight. Nor did he respond to inquiries about why it took more than a year to return the payment. It’s unclear whether his statement referred to his campaign treasurer, Michael Millner, or a treasurer who works for the foundation.
Millner did not respond to emails requesting comment.
Anderson is running unopposed for the north Pinellas House District 57 seat.
The AJ Anderson Foundation, which made the donation in question, says it gives 100% of its proceeds “to the advancement of clinical research to cure Tay-Sachs disease.” Tay-Sachs is a fatal genetic condition that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. As the disease progresses, patients can experience worsening symptoms such as seizures or loss of sight.
The foundation is named for the candidate’s late son, Andrew John Anderson, who died at age 4.
According to the state database of campaign contributions, the foundation’s address is the same as Anderson’s Palm Harbor home. The organization was not listed on a Florida Department of State database of businesses, but it is listed on a similar New Jersey database. (The Andersons resided in the Garden State until 2020.)
Under federal tax law, 501(c)(3) organizations are not allowed to participate in political activities. It’s not clear whether the foundation is a 501(c)(3). Brianne Anderson, listed as a point of contact on the charity’s website, referred questions to Adam Anderson, her husband.
Mark Herron, a Tallahassee attorney who specializes in election law, said a hypothetical Florida candidate would not be in any legal trouble for accepting a donation from a 501(c)(3). Instead, the charity could run into trouble with the federal Internal Revenue Service, he said.
Herron, who has served as treasurer on dozens of political committees in Florida, said it’s not uncommon for a contribution to enter a candidate’s campaign coffers by mistake.
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The $1,000 check is just a fraction of the nearly $180,000 Anderson has raised for his race.
But Herron said normally, mistaken contributions are noticed and returned sooner than one year after the fact.
“A year is a little long,” the attorney said.
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