Matt Dixon at The Florida Times-Union’s Death, Taxes & Politics blog caught one of the more obscure contributions to the 527 group Let’s Get to Work, associated with Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott. The National Safety Commission, a “safety training” company in Ponte Vedra that lobbied the legislature for the exclusive rights to print driver’s license handbooks, gave $25,000 to the group. It’s yet another example of companies that do business with the state donating to candidates’ 527s.
Here’s more on the bill that died in the legislature that would have given the company and its owner, Ken Underwood, the exclusive rights to print the manuals:
The bill, SB 2342, would give local businessman Ken Underwood the inside track on keeping a state contract that gives him the exclusive rights to print driver license handbooks. Under the current terms, Underwood prints the handbooks at no charge to the state and in return gets to place advertisements in it for his driver safety school – Ponte Vedra Beach-based company called National Safety Commission. No other driving schools receive advertisements in the handbook.
After the state told Underwood late last year that it would not renew his contract when it expires this Dec. 31, state Sen. Carey Baker, who owns a Central Florida gun shop, filed a bill on behalf of a lobbyist for Underwood’s company that would help steer the contract back to him.
Marion Hammer, former president of the NRA and Florida resident, has come out in staunch opposition to the bill after she tried to get a driver safety handbook for her 15-year-old grandson and was sent to the Underwood company’s Web site and asked for personal information.
Underwood, who owns the company, has given nearly $370,000 in political contributions, mostly to Republicans, over the past decade. He also cut a web attack ad against Scott’s primary opponent, Attorney General Bill McCollum, faulting him for “wasteful spending” in fighting the renewal of a small business’ contract with the state. But the small business in question was his own company, and the “spending” was for the state not renewing his contract, that Underwood said — without any confirmation — would have saved $4 million.
Luke Johnson reports on Florida for The American Independent.