Agriculture Commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam continued to dominate the field in June fundraising, raising $1.3 million in his Florida Grown political committee and nearly $800,000 in his campaign committee.
The $2.1 million nearly matched the $2 million House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O'Lakes amassed in his Watchdog PAC, as he used the month for post-session fundraising to explore a run for the GOP nomination against Putnam.
The other possible GOP candidate, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, raised $411,000 for the month while unannounced but likely Democratic candidate, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, collected $2 million for his political committee All About Florida in June, including $855,000 of it from out of state and $300,000 from himself.
The announced Democrats in the race saw their fundraising taper off a bit last month. Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham raised about $350,000, including $226,000 in her political committee and $137,000 in her Our Florida PC. Orlando businessman Chris King raised $146,000 in his Rise and Lead political committee and $56,000 in his campaign account. And Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum raised $25,000 in his political committee Forward Florida and $98,000 in his campaign account.
The Democrats also benefitted from Democratic Party of Florida support of their campaign staff with in-kind contributions for the month totaling $98,000 for Gillum, $61,000 for Graham and $40,000 for King.
But it was Putnam whose fundraising left no doubt that he is the candidate of the Tallahassee establishment. Of the $1.3 million raised by his political committee, $400,000 came from the political committees controlled by Associated Industries of Florida, the Tallahassee business lobbying group that serves as a pass-through for political donations from its associated members. Putnam's second biggest contributor for the month was $110,000from sugar companies, mostly U.S. Sugar.
An analysis of the contributions to the AIF committees shows four principal donors in the last two months preceding the Putnam contributions. HCA, the for-profit hospital chain, gave $75,000 to Floridians United for Our Children and $60,000 to Voice of Florida Business, which together gave Putnam $160,000. U.S. Sugar gave $200,000 each to Floridians for Stronger Democracy and Florida Prosperity fund, which gave Putnam $50,000 and $75,000 respectively in June. And Associated Industries of Florida PAC received $50,000 each from Gulf Power and RAI Services, the tobacco giant, and the committee gave Putnam $125,000 for the month.
By contrast, Corcoran's political committee showed no contributions from the AIF group of committees. His PC did have some notable contributions. Paul Tudor Jones, the Connecticut hedge fund manager and benefactor to the Everglades Foundation which backed Senate President Joe Negron's push to build a water-holding reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, gave the speaker a check for $50,000. The contribution may be a gratitude gift to Corcoran for agreeing to early passage of the bill enabling the reservoir, or possibly a down payment on pushback against Putnam's sugar money.
The Fontainebleau, the Miami Beach hotel that has hired Corcoran's brother Michael as its lobbyist, gave $100,000. The organization wants a casino on the beach, something another Corcoran donor, Norman Braman opposes. (As we reported, Braman gave $100,000 as did the political committee controlled by Rep. Carlos Trujillo.)
Both Reps. Jose Oliva and Chris Sprowls, the Republicans who hope to succeed Corcoran as House speaker, also each gave his political committee $250,000.