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Is Big Sugar sweet on Geller for county race?

A political group, Citizens for Ethical and Effective Leadership, which took $7,000 from Florida Crystals in May has been linked to former state legislator Steve Geller who is running in a contentious race trying to oust fellow Democrat ad Broward County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger.

Why would Sugar weigh in on a county commission race?

Geller says although the committee did an ad promoting him, the committee isn't his. And he says Sugar has nothing to do with that ad.

"Prior to July of this year we had nothing to do with them," he said of the Ethical and Effective Leadership committee.

The committee has raised a total of about $117,000 including about $53,000 during the most recent quarter including $7,000 from Flordida Crystals in May. In July, Geller's committee, Floridians for a Stronger Tomorrow, gave the Ethical and Effective commitee $36,000. Geller's committee is a committee of continuous existence and therefore can't spend diretly on ads -- it must funnel the money to an entity which can pay for ads.

After Gunzburger's campaign raised questions about the sugar money, Geller said he asked the Ethical and Effective committee if the sugar money went into the ad about him and was told no. But there is no way to verify that from the reports.

The whole sugar spat shows the legal yet complicated and hidden nature of campaign financing in an age when various groups can help fund campaigns. Gunzburger does not have an ECO or CCE.

Geller's committee, Floridians for a Stronger Tomorrow, raised $38,000 during the most recent quarter and since 2009, his committee has raised about $148,000. He received about $49,000 in direct contributions to his campaign for the most recent quarter a total of about $195,000.

Gunzburger received about $48,000 for the quarter for total donations of about $292,000 and $110,000 in loans.