Miami Commissioner Ken Russell’s got a brand new bag … of campaign cash.
This summer, months after aborting his bid to replace U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congress, Russell moved $100,000 from his congressional campaign committee into a state-registered PAC supporting his reelection to the city commission. The transfer occurred days after the June 30 cutoff period for the most recent round of federal campaign finance reports, so it hasn’t yet been disclosed on the Federal Election Commission’s campaign database.
The six-figure move is perfectly legal, if not common. Former congresswoman Gwen Graham, for instance, moved $250,000 in congressional campaign cash to a state-registered political committee last year as she prepared to run for Florida governor.
Reached Saturday, Russell said he contacted all his donors after withdrawing from the Democratic primary for Florida’s 27th congressional district in order to ask whether they wanted their money returned, donated to a charity or were comfortable leaving it in his hands to use in his political endeavors.
“Every dollar that’s in that state PAC has expressly been stated by the donor that I can use it for any of those purposes,” he said. “I really felt like this was not my money. I said ‘I didn’t complete the race. These are your funds. I’m happy to send it back.’”
Through the end of June, Russell’s congressional campaign reported $61,274 in donor refunds, some of it pro-rated, some of it returned in full. Another Miami politician who dropped out of the race on the same day, state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, has reported $100,885 in refunds and doesn’t appear to have transferred any money toward his 2020 reelection bid.
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