August 26, 2010

Bud Chiles calls for stricter campaign finance laws

On a leafy side street in a nice neighborhood in Tampa, independent candidate for governor Lawton "Bud" Chiles railed against Florida's campaign finance system while standing in front of an accounting office associated with dozens of political committees.

“This building behind me is ground zero for what’s wrong with FL politics," Chiles said. "What’s being hidden from Florida voters?

Chiles held his press conference outside Robert Watkins and Co, with the famous address (in political circles) of 610 South Boulevard. State records show that Nancy Watkins, is associated with 32 active political committees that raised just less than $12 million last year. Most of the committees are associated with Republican candidates or issues.

Watkins defended the committees: "I do believe in the public’s right and need to know. They report every penny in and out." Watkins said her one gripe is that some apparent campaign finance violations go unreported to the Florida Elections Commission.

-- Steve Bousquet

August 17, 2010

Scott puts $4 million into final ads

If you don't see Rick Scott on your TV in Florida this week, you're blind. Scott's campaign put $3.7 million behind it's final message, its largest single television advertising buy to date.

Scott is obliterating rival Bill McCollum -- with what seems like 5,000 different ads -- who at the moment plans to spend $1.6 million through the Aug. 24 primary.

With the primary a week away, Scott is poised to spend $38 million ($27 million on his own; $10 million from his political committee) while McCollum barely tops $13 million ($5.2 million from his campaign; $8 million from his political committees).

So the total spent: tops $50 million.

RGA hits Sink with attack ad

UPDATED: A new political committee -- with ties to the Republican Governor's Association -- is poised to hit Democrat Alex Sink with a familiar attack ad.

The group, Florida's Future Fund, is airing virtually the same ad the RGA hit Sink with earlier this year. It suggests she eliminated jobs in her role at Bank of America at the same time she took huge bonuses. ("Not one of us. One of them.") The main change is the tagline, which calls Sink a "financial disaster."

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August 16, 2010

Kottkamp, Dorworth pledge to return Greer money

Disgraced GOP chairman Jim Greer didn't write them letters asking for it but two more top Florida Republicans are returning his contributions Monday.

Following Gov. Charlie Crist’s lead, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp’s attorney general campaign said Monday it would donate the $1,000 the Jim and Lisa Greer gave to the party -- to help repay the money Greer misused, said campaign manager David Bishop. The campaign promised this a month ago -- at the prodding of rival Pam Bondi -- but still hadn't made the donation, campaign finance records show.

Likewise, Rep. Chris Dorworth, a future House speaker seeking re-election, said he would return the $500 his campaign received. "I don't recall getting a campaign contribution from him this cycle, but I haven't looked. If I did, I would return the check," Dorworth said. He received the check the day before the 2009 session at a Florida Chamber fundraiser and later promised to send it back.

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Greer needs money for lawyers, asks Crist for money back


Crist Hugs Greer - Low Res UPDATED: Jim Greer, the indicted former chairman of the state Republican Party, is asking Gov. Charlie Crist to refund $9,600 in campaign contributions made to Crist's U.S. Senate campaign. "As you know circumstances have caused me to need money to defend myself and take care of my family," Greer wrote in a letter to the campaign. "I know sending the money back is hard, but with what has happened it may be politically beneficial for you to do." (Download the letter here.)

The letter goes on to hammer the Republican Party of Florida leaders who helped oust Greer. "The current RPOF leadership, including (gubernatorial candidate Bill) McCollum, (Party Chairman John) Thrasher and many of the state committee members are simply liars, racists, and extremists ... the current bunch that are running the show will stop at nothing to cover for their own misdeeds," it reads.

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July 30, 2010

New public money totals released

Here's this week's update on the public money (this section of the public finance law is not affected by today's injuction on the so-called "millionaire's amendment.") Bill McCollum is the only candidate for governor taking public money -- for various reasons. Rick Scott won't take it. Alex Sink isn't sure if she wants it. And Bud Chiles wants it but hasn't yet qualified for it.

Governor: Bill McCollum: $1.7 million. Rick Scott: $0 Alex Sink: $0 Bud Chiles: $0.

Attorney General: Dave Aronberg: $290k. Dan Gelber: $353k. Holly Benson: $249k. Pam Bondi: $307k. Jeff Kottkamp: $259k.

CFO: Jeff Atwater: $586k. Loranne Ausley: $311.

Ag Commissioner: Scott Maddox: $196k. Adam Putnam: $317k.

July 29, 2010

Down in polls, McCollum declares 'We are going to win this election'

Attorney General Bill McCollum suggested "polls vary a lot" and he is not worried about the latest Quinnipiac survey showing him down 11 points in the Republican governor's race to rival Rick Scott.

"The fact of the matter is we know we are down a little bit to Mr. Scott," McCollum said before Thursday's state Cabinet meeting. "We are going to close strong and we have the resources to do it and we are going to win this election."

McCollum pointed to the poll by the Florida Medical Association -- one of his chief supporters -- that showed him down four points. "We have a long way to go and there are a lot of undecideds in that polls itself," he added.

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July 23, 2010

Public financing winners: McCollum, Atwater, Gelber

The public financing totals are out. Here are the big ones: Bill McCollum got $1.26 million, Jeff Atwater got $492,000 and Dan Gelber got $353,000. There are also some big names with $0 listed, including Alex Sink, who has said she is still deciding whether to accept public funds.

Other candidates with no public money listed who would otherwise be eligible include: Dave Aronberg, Loranne Ausley and Scott Maddox. Common thread? All Democrats. We're on the case to find out why.

McCollum down to $540k, public to come to rescue

Finance reports are coming in quickly now. Bill McCollum's is up, showing he raised just over $1 million in the latest quarter, but spent the bulk of his cash in the tough primary with Rick Scott. He's down to $540,000 in his campaign account.

But the public financing system will come to the rescue. His campaign expects to receive more than $2 million in matching funds today. (The actual amount is coming later this afternoon.)So he's not out of money just yet.

July 21, 2010

New group attacks Crist as a flip-flopper

A new political group entered the Florida U.S. Senate race Wednesday with an attack on Charlie Crist as a flip-flopper.

The American Action Network -- a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)4 nonprofit group which doesn't disclose donors -- is running the 30-second TV spot in the Tampa market and the Panhandle. (The group also debuted a website changingcharlie.com.) The ad kicker: "You can’t trust Charlie Crist to fight for jobs … unless it’s his own job." Sound familiar Marco Rubio?