Monday, January 23, 2017

Cash pours into political committees for Rick Scott, Adam Putnam

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 11:08 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JEREMY REPER
  • Photo by Jeremy Reper
At least at this point, Gov. Rick Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam haven't announced plans to be on the ballot in 2018.

But with Scott widely expected to run for U.S. Senate and Putnam likely to run for governor, closely aligned political committees are collecting big contributions that could help position the Republicans for their next races.

Scott's "Let's Get to Work" political committee, which sponsored a gala this week in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with President Donald Trump's inauguration, raised $435,000 during the first nine days of January, according to a list of contributions on the committee's website.

Most of the money came from a handful of companies, including $100,000 from United States Sugar Corp.; $100,000 from Comprehensive Health Management Inc., which is affiliated with WellCare Health Plans; $50,000 from The Geo Group, Inc.; and $50,000 from Amscot Financial, the list showed.

As of Friday, the website listed contributions through Jan. 9 and expenditures through Jan. 5, so it is was not clear how much money Let's Get to Work has spent this month —- on the gala or anything else.

But Let's Get to Work also finished 2016 with about $2 million in the bank, according to campaign-finance information filed with the state Division of Elections. That included raising $192,500 in December, with $50,000 coming from TECO Energy Inc., $50,000 from Gulf Power Co. and $50,000 from The Villages real-estate development company.

Meanwhile, the Putnam-allied committee, known as "Florida Grown," finished 2016 with an even-bigger pile of cash on hand, at nearly $4.46 million, the state Division of Elections website shows. Florida Grown was formed in February 2015, after Putnam won his final term as agriculture commissioner, and had raised a total of about $6.79 million through 2016.

Florida Grown collected $428,150 in December, with $100,000 of that amount coming from a Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC and another $100,000 coming from PACs linked to Associated Industries of Florida.

Early this month, Florida Grown also received a $250,000 contribution from Florida Power & Light, according to the Florida Grown website.

Political committees face a Feb. 10 deadline for filing state reports that will show finance activity for all of January.

Let's Get to Work has played a critical role in Scott's relatively brief, but successful, political career. From March 2014 through December 2016, for example, it raised about $53.58 million, while spending just under $51.59 million, state records show.

Large amounts of that spending came during Scott's successful 2014 re-election campaign. But the committee also has promoted Scott's policy priorities and has helped other Republicans. For example, during the closing days of the 2016 elections, Let's Get to Work funneled $100,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which spearheaded efforts to elect GOP senators.

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