Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

Yankees and Moffitt help push donations to transportation group over $3 million

Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, left, and All for Transportation co-leader Rena Frazier speak at a campaign event in support of sales tax hikes to pay for schools and transportation at the West Tampa Library on Union St. Monday. [Times photo: Christopher O'Donnell]
Published Oct. 29, 2018

TAMPA — The New York Yankees, Tampa Electric and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center are the latest big names to weigh in with sizable campaign donations to the group pushing the transportation sales tax, which has now raised more than $3 million.

The Yankees donated $100,000 to All for Transportation, matching earlier contributions by the region's three major professional sports franchises.

TECO and Moffitt both gave $50,000 and Adventist Health System, which owns Florida Hospital, donated $100,000. And there was another $150,000 donation from Strategic Property Partners, a development firm launched by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment, the capital fund owned by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.

With the campaign entering its final week, All for Transportation held its first joint campaign event on Monday with Strengthen Our Schools, the group campaigning for a half percent sales tax for schools that need air conditioners, roofs and other capital needs.

The transportation plan would increase the sales tax by a penny on the dollar. The two groups ended up sharing a ballot despite some concerns that two requests to voters to raise taxes would doom both.

Organizers said that's not the case and that voters see both ballot measures as important quality of life issues.

"We think the time is right that people will vote for both to support critical infrastructure needs in both transportation and education," said Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, executive director of the Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association.

RELATED: Here's how money from a sales tax hike would improve transportation

Strengthen Our Schools has raised $287,000 since it began campaigning in September.

"We just haven't had the time to fund-raise in the same way perhaps as the other group but we've had great support from the business community, from the chamber to the various sports teams," Baxter-Jenkins said.

All for Transportation's campaign haul is three times as much as was raised for the unsuccessful Greenlight Pinellas campaign in 2014.

It has already spent more than $2.5 million, including $700,000 for a professional petition gathering firm to collect the more than 50,000 valid signatures to put its transportation plan on the ballot.

It is also spending heavily on professional door-knockers, phone-banks, flyers, and television and social media advertisements.

"We know when voters hear from us they will vote for us," said Christina Barker, one of the group's leaders. "Our strategy is to get our message out by any medium to any voter."

Notaxfortracks.com, the group campaigning against the transportation sales tax, has raised just over $41,000.

RELATED: Three weeks before election tax foes organize to fight transportation measure

Treasurer Sharon Calvert said there has not been enough public debate about the transportation plan and that many voters are unaware of the details.

She said the big money donations are coming from developers who will reap a return on investment once taxpayers pick up the tab for transportation. That includes Vinik, who between personal donations and contributions from companies he is associated with, has given $600,000 to All for Transportation.

"The value of his property will increase exponentially," she said.

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Senator Wilton Simpson, R- Trilby, examines papers as he enter the Florida Capitol, Wednesday, May 1, 2019 during the last week of the sixty day legislative session. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The man once called “the Donald Trump of regional egg farmers" is in line to become leader of Florida’s Senate in 2020
  2. Tampa firefighter Tanja Vidovic steps out of the federal courthouse in Tampa in during the 2017 federal trial of her sexual discrimination case against the city of Tampa. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON   |   Times]
    Tanja Vidovic will run against incumbent Joe Ayoub in the city’s March 2020 elections.
  3. In this image from a telecast by The Florida Channel, Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks to a Gainesville crowd that came to discuss revisions to the state's education standards this past week. “We’re going to end up with the world’s best standards,” Corcoran said. The Florida Channel
    The effort, ordered by Gov. Ron DeSantis, aims to transform the way students learn in public schools. A “listening session” is set for Tampa’s Jefferson High.
  4. The annual assault on Florida’s public records law begins anew today in the Legislature.
    “It’s pretty alarming what they’re doing here,” said a former Florida long-term care ombudsman who now runs an advocacy group for residents.
  5. Protestors gather in Turlington Plaza to practice the chant "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA" prior to the speech of Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle at the University of Florida on October 10, 2019.  CHRIS DAY  |  Chris Day
    The president’s son was joined by former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, his girlfriend, who serves as an adviser for Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.
  6. Republicans circle the wagons. Samantha J. Gross | Miami Herald
    Even this week’s revelations in Florida haven’t disrupted the state’s political dynamics. That means Republicans are firmly behind their leaders.
  7. Chelsea Tremblay, left, looks on while her husband Mayor Scott Tremblay is congratulated by Sherry Maklary after Pasco legislators table bill from state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, calling for election on dissolving Port Richey at the  public hearing held at Pasco-Hernando State College in New Port Richey on Friday. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Rep. Amber Mariano’s bill requiring a public referendum on the city’s future is tabled until a legislative audit is conducted.
  8. The Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller will waive some late charges for residents who have had their driver's license suspended as part of Operation Green Light. Courtesy Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller
    Florida drivers can lose their licenses for things unrelated to their safe driving record, such as unpaid court fines and traffic fees . Operation Green Light and similar programs are trying to help...
  9. The impeachment trial against President Andrew Johnson opens in the Senate Chambers in the U.S. Senate historical Society drawing.  Johnson, who became president after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, clashed with Congress over reconstruction policies after the Civil War and was impeached over a Tenure of Office dispute.  (AP Photo/U.S. Senate Historical Society) AP
    From Andrew Johnson in the 1860s to Richard Nixon in the 1970s and Bill Clinton in the 1990s, American history is our guide.
  10. Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]
    The Department of Corrections has not tracked how many inmates have required treatment as a result of overdoses during the past three years.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement