« Thurston's supporters keep pushing Sheldon to bow out | Main | Miami-Dade mayor to feds: You may need to help us with surge of unaccompanied immigrant children »

Gaetz PAC money draws ire from both Panhandle Dems and Republicans

MattgaetzIt’s not often that Democrats and Republicans can agree to much of anything.

Which is why what happened Friday at a news conference in Okaloosa County is sorta noteworthy.

Prompted by a Northwest Florida Daily News story about Rep. Matt Gaetz’s use of PACs to influence local races, John Whitley, a state committeeman of Okaloosa County for the Florida Democratic Party, and Gaye Ellis, the chairwoman of the Okaloosa County Republican Executive Committee, reached agreement on Friday that there’s too much outside money sloshing around local races.

“The Northwest Florida Daily News has focused on a Tallahassee PAC which has local ties, but there are other PACs influencing our local election with no local ties at all," Ellis said. "This outside influence puts a damper on the phrase: ‘We the people.' The people of Okaloosa County have the ability to govern themselves.”  

“It appears our state legislators are bringing the nasty, deceitful, and misrepresented, misleading and false statements of the federal and state level politics to our homefront,” said Whitley.

Although no names were mentioned at the news conference, Whitley was asked who he was talking about, and said it was Gaetz, who is the focus of the Daily News story:

Gaetz has established two political committees of his own, and he's working with similar committees and groups across the state to accumulate large amounts of money.

The dollars have thus far flowed from the committees into the campaign funds of selected local candidates, but history shows committee funds can also go toward political advertisements that can't be tied to a particular person.

District 4 County Commission prospect Trey Goodwin is one of the local candidates on the receiving end of Gaetz’s fund raising efforts. He makes no apologies for that.

"Nobody is buying me by contributing to my campaign," he said. "I make that clear. I'm asking them to buy into my vision."

Goodwin not only got a direct $500 donation from Gaetz, but he also has been the beneficiary of two $500 donations from the Economic Freedom Foundation and two $500 donations from the Free Enterprise Fund.

The Florida Division of Elections lists Gaetz as the chairman of both.

Goodwin also collected a $1,000 donation from the Florida Future Alliance, a committee headed by Republican state Rep. Rob Schenck.


Whitley said outside money from PACs like Gaetz are worse than ever before and heavily influencing the outcome of local races like school board, county commission and county clerk.

“We’re tired of having our elections decided for us by people who couldn’t locate Okaloosa County on a map,” Whitley said.

Why didn’t he mention Gaetz during the news conference?

“I’m not naming names because it’s so obvious,” he said.

Here's the video of the news conference:



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Time to end the Gaetz dynasty before it gets any further. Matt thinks he can parlay his father's power into his own hands. At least Don held a local position in Okaloosa - School Superintendent. Matt deserves to be sent packing. Goodwin is a sell out to big Tallahassee interests. The people of Okaloosa county deserve better.

All in the Family

What about Bullard or Latvala dynasties?

Jack Lee

Wow Santa Rosa County too! I will not vote for Jim Melven

Fred Lewis

I'm glad I saw this. I will take my Jim Melvin yard sign down and go and vote for Bob Cole Tomorrow .I'm tired of RINOs

Jim Moss

It is shameful what Matt Gaetz is trying to do to our election process. He has lost my vote when the time comes and I will not vote for anyone he supports. We the people of Okaloosa county need to elect our public servants not Matt Gaetz and his PACs.

Kitti Hataway

Look at the race for State Representative Dis.5 for another prime example. Brad Drake has 11 pages of primarily PAC dollar donors and he already took $40K from the Republican party to "graciously step down" so that Marti Coley could run uncontested in 2012. He says he is against Common Core but voted for it. People need to do their homework and vote if they are tired of the 'good ole boys' and RINO's deciding who THEY want in office and trying to make it impossible for anyone to compete with all the special interest $$$$. Vote for Jan Hooks on August 26th if you want someone who is genuine, will SERVE the PEOPLE and is not afraid to say 'NO' to the career politicians!

The comments to this entry are closed.