Advertisement
  1. Tampa

David Straz says he won't accept any donation larger than $500 for his mayoral campaign. But he has — at least 12 times

CHRIS URSO | Times Tampa mayoral candidate David Straz has said he won't accept donations larger than $500. But he has done so at least 12 times.
Published Apr. 9

TAMPA — David Straz vaporized all spending records for a Tampa election months ago, almost all of it with cash from his vast fortune.

But often lost amid the focus on Straz's wealth is a campaign promise the retired banker has made repeatedly since he entered Tampa's mayoral race in May: He won't accept any more than $500 from any person or business.

Straz, 76, rarely missed an opportunity to tout his financial independence during the forums in the general election. Most recently, he repeats the claim in a radio spot airing this week.

He's broken that pledge.

A Times analysis of Straz's campaign contributions shows at least 12 individuals and entities have given more than $500 to the campaign, for a total of $11,950.

Many of the contributors broke up their donations into smaller increments, often on the same day, according to records available on the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections website.

A Robert Newman from the same address as of Tampa's J.C. Newman Cigar Company gave the campaign a $200 check and an $800 in-kind contribution in July and September. Newman is one of the owners.

Newman's nephew Drew said his uncle wasn't aware of Straz's campaign promise and no one from the campaign has contacted them to refund or reallocate their money.

Robert Newman gave the same amount to Jane Castor's campaign, Drew Newman said.

Michael Foley, a Tampa insurance agent, gave three donations totaling $700 within two weeks in February.

Ten individuals or businesses contributed at least $1,000, including Tampa House of Coffee.

Straz frequently mentions his pledge not to accept large donations as proof of integrity. His campaign has also criticized his opponent Jane Castor for accepting more than $100,000 from Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, among others.

Why would a candidate worth $426 million break his own pledge to limit campaign contributions?

The Straz campaign responded with a statement.

"A handful of people have contributed more than $500 to the campaign and are on the report. When we get a contribution of more than $500, we either return the excess money or allow the contributor to exchange the check for checks of $500 each from friends or family. Not all of those refunds or reattributions have been completed, but they will be," read an email from spokesman Jarrod Holbrook.

The only refund recorded in the required campaign filings was a July 4 refund of $250 to Tampa consultant Charles Britton, who had originally donated $750 to the campaign.

Holbrook didn't respond to text and phone messages requesting proof of any other refunds or reallocations.

Through March 22, Straz had raised $3.9 million, nearly all of it from his own pockets, and has spent $3.3 million, dwarfing Castor's $1.4 million.

The race, which ends April 23, has smashed all previous records for spending, topping $5 million and far exceeding what had been a Tampa Bay high-water mark: the 2017 St. Petersburg race between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker, which topped $3 million.

The Castor campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.

Contact Charlie Frago at cfrago@tampabay.com or (727)893-8459. Follow@CharlieFrago.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  2. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  3. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announces federal grants Friday that will equip at least 600 officers with body cameras. CHARLIE FRAGO  |  Charlie Frago
    Mayor Jane Castor announces a nearly $600,000 Department of Justice grant Friday.
  4. Snack-focused delivery app GoPuff launched in Tampa in February. It serves the area surrounding the University of South Florida. GoPuff
    Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or Funyuns? GoPuff says it has the data for which snack Floridians love the most.
  5. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest news and updates. Times
    A seriously injured man found near Fowler Avenue and 22nd Street died at a hospital, police said.
  6. The Tampa City Council was told Thursday that it had little power to prevent a medical marijuana cultivation,  processing and dispensary approved for East Tampa. ANDREW SELSKY  |  AP
    Trulieve plans to open a facility near a recovery center. State preemption prevents the city from taking action.
  7. Jessica LaBouve, a penetration tester for cybersecurity company A-LIGN, poses for a portrait in the A-LIGN office on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 in Tampa. Companies hire A-LIGN to figure out where their digital security weak spots are, and LaBouve is one of the "benevolent hackers" that finds them. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Jessica LaBouve of A-LIGN works with companies to make their applications and platforms more secure.
  8. Patrick Thorpe, who owns part of Marti/Colon Cemetery in West Tampa, wants to start a nonprofit group to cover the costs of burial grounds that are falling into disrepair. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Architect Patrick Thorpe is working to keep old Tampa cemeteries from falling further into disrepair.
  9. A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy responding to a domestic violence call shot an unarmed 17-year-old along Skipper Road in north Tampa on March 26. The deputy thought the teen was pulling a gun. The teen was paralyzed and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office has ruled that the deputy will not face charges. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    A Hillsborough deputy was cleared because he thought the boy, 17, had a gun. Records show how it happened.
  10. Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming is coming to Carrollwood this fall. [Courtesy of Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming]
    The Orlando-based franchise is a specialty retailer of pet food and supplies.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement