Remember those mailers that attacked Richard Corcoran, the one-time chief of staff for House Speaker Marco Rubio who left his job to run for the state Senate seat vacated by Nancy Argenziano?
It turns out that Sen. Alex Villalobos, a Miami Republican, was helping raise money for the group that put out the mailers: The Committee to Protect Florida, a electioneering communications organization or ECO run by veteran campaign consultant Rocky Pennington. Pennington also did extensive campaign work for Charlie Dean, who squeezed by Dennis Baxley in a tight GOP primary before winning the Senate seat.
On May 29th, Senate records show that Villalobos registered that he was soliciting money for the organization. The hard-hitting mailers put out by the group contended that Corcoran lied when he ran previously against Argenziano in a 1998 House race. Despite being endorsed by Senate leaders such as Senate President Ken Pruitt and Sen. Dan Webster, Corcoran dropped out of the race right before qualifying.
The Committee to Protect Florida wound up raising $130,000, including receiving a $50,000 donation from the Florida Education Association, $5,000 from lobbyist Ron Book and $2,000 from lobbyist David Custin.
Villalobos said he helped the organization for one reason: To help Charlie Dean. He said he didn't keep track of who all gave the group money or what it was spent on, although he said he approached the FEA.
"I helped raise Charlie Dean the money,'' said Villalobos. "I don't know what they did and where it went."