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Diaz de la Portilla loans himself $443K in special Miami Senate campaign


Former Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, running against a far better-funded opponent, loaned himself $393,500 since June 9 to campaign for Senate District 40 ahead of Tuesday's special primary election, according to a campaign-finance report filed Friday. That brings the total amount Diaz de la Portilla has put into his campaign to $443,500.

Diaz de la Portilla told the Miami Herald in a text message he poured his money into the race "to fight against the $3 million nasty defamation campaign waged by my opponent with dirty special interest money."

"I will owe my victory this Tuesday to the hardworking men and women of District 40 and not to influence peddlers who have bought Jose Felix Diaz," he said of his chief rival, a sitting state representative. "Self funding gives me the freedom to fight for the people and answer only to them."

Diaz questioned the source of Diaz de la Portilla's money. Diaz de la Portilla, who works as a political consultant, reported in a May 30 financial disclosure form a net worth of about $618,000, with annual $98,000 income from his consulting firm, First Stone Management. He listed his sole ownership of the firm as an asset with a "fair market value" of $300,000.

He has a $386,000 mortgage on a home valued at about $603,000 that is under foreclosure -- a step Diaz de la Portilla has described as necessary to modify the mortgage after he and his ex-wife divorced.

"Alex's hypocrisy knows no bounds," Diaz said in a statement. "The only income he has comes from lobbying and running campaigns funded by special interests. The real story here is where did Alex get half a million dollars, all of a sudden, with less than a week to go before Election Day? HIs financial disclosure reports confirm that he doesn't have the money he is supposedly lending himself. The dark money he is spending on desperate attacks stinks far worse than his liberal tax-and-spend voting record."

Diaz de la Portilla dismissed questions about his finances, saying he keeps them "by the book."

"My assets have increased in the private sector and all my financial disclosures reflect that," he said. "My next financial disclosure, when due, will, as always, reflect my financial resources."

Diaz de la Portilla's report shows his most recent payment to himself was for $55,000 Thursday, after a $200,000 payment Tuesday.

Diaz de la Portilla also collected $30,250 from contributors from June 9 through Thursday, bringing his total to $52,750. 

Diaz leads all candidates in the race in fundraising, having collected $531,325 from June 9 through Thursday. That brings his total campaign money to $809,729. He has not loaned himself any money.

Diaz's list of contributors reads like a who's who of Miami business, healthcare and political interests, including from several car dealerships owned by billionaire civic activist Norman Braman. Diaz de la Portilla has portrayed himself throughout the campaign as a candidate willing to buck his party and Tallahassee bigwigs. 

Diaz, who voted for a controversial education bill during this year's session opposed by his GOP campaign rivals, also got contributions of $1,000 each from Charter Schools USA and Fernando and Ignacio Zulueta, the founders of Academica, another charter-school chain. And he received $250 from Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami, and $1,000 from Carlos Migoya, the chief executive of the public Jackson Health System.

In addition, Diaz has been aided by his political committee, Rebuild Florida, which raised $420,500 in June and spent a whopping $1.3 million in July. Among its major contributions were $25,000 from a Florida Medical Association PAC, $25,000 from Publix, $25,000 from a Florida Hospital Association PAC and $25,000 from Coalition for Conservative Leadership, a group linked to Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota, according to the PAC's website

The third Republican in the race, attorney Lorenzo Palomares, raised $14,4000, bringing his total to $23,400. He's loaned himself a total of $62,500. Diaz has spent $736,434.72, compared to Diaz de la Portilla's $331,886.41 and Palomares' $40,846.69.

Republicans have vastly outraised Democrats since the start of the race. Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo's fundraising total far eclipsed the one from her rival, former Rep. Ana Rivas Logan. Taddeo raked in $38,339.75 from June 9 through Thursday, bringing her total to $83,898. During the same period, Rivas Logan collected only $2,835, for a total of $13,260, including $2,500 Rivas Logan loaned herself early in the race. 

Among Taddeo's contributors were Chris Korge, a major Democratic fundraiser who gave her $1,000; former Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant, who gave $250, and the committee for Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House minority whip who's backed Taddeo since her first run for office in 2008 and gave $1,000.

Taddeo has spent a total of $59,618.15, compared to Rivas Logan's $10,790.39.

Taddeo's political committee, Fight Back Florida, has raised a total of $38,650.00. The largest contribution, on June 30, came from Diario Las Americas Multimedia, a Spanish-language newspaper. Publisher Nelson Mezerhane did not respond to emailed questions Friday about the contribution. The committee has spent $24,089.96.

Attorney Daniel Perez, for his part, raised $84,750, for a total of $168,200. He, too, got money from various business associations, including a Florida Bankers Association PAC and a Florida Medical Association PAC -- as well as $1,000 from Coral Gables healthcare executive Mike Fernandez and $1,000 from businessman Jorge Mas, who's considering buying the Miami Marlins baseball team.

In the Republican primary for House District 116, brewery owner Jose Mallea collected $97,600 from June 9 through Thursday, bringing his campaign total to $238,256, including $24,000 he loaned himself this month. Among his contributors were several business interests, including the political committee for Associated Industries of Florida, insurer Florida Blue and Publix. A former Jeb Bush aide who worked on his 2016 presidential campaign, Mallea also reported $100 from former Bush campaign manager Sally Bradshaw of Tallahassee.

Mallea has spent $244,001.40 so far in the race, compared to Perez's $162,531.77.