The Orlando Sentinel broke news last month about a pair of Florida political committees associated with state legislators that had donated $10,000 apiece to the legal expense funds of Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart. That money is being used to sue to block anti-gerrymandering Amendment 6.
But a review of the records of Brown and Diaz-Balart’s legal expense funds, accessible only in person in Washington, D.C., and obtained by our sister site The American Independent, shows that a third committee, associated with state Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, also gave money in June.
The Sentinel story outlined donations made to Brown and Diaz-Balart by two committees: the Florida Leadership Alliance, associated with state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Citizens for Housing & Urban Growth, associated with Bennett. But a third committee — the Committee Supporting Utilities & Competitive Commerce, associated with Bennett — also gave money to the funds the same week as the other two.
Contribution records on the committee’s website show that on June 25, it gave $2,500 to both Brown and Diaz-Balart’s legal expense funds. On that same day, the committee received $10,000 from Citizens for Housing & Urban Growth, Bennett’s other committee. In addition to their ties to Bennett, both committees share the same chairperson, treasurer and registered agent, according to their filings with the Florida Division of Elections.
In addition to those monies, Brown’s fund picked up cash from Michael J. Ward, the chairman, president and CEO of the Jacksonville-based corporation CSX and a major political donor, and from Jacksonville’s Patriot Transportation Holding, a publicly traded transportation and real estate company.
Diaz-Balart’s fund, meanwhile, earned additional donations from Agro-Industrial Management and Americas Export Corporation, two companies that share the same West Palm Beach address according to Division of Corporations data.
I’ll have more on both funds tomorrow.