November 5, 2016 – Politico
by Matt Dixon
In the race for a hotly-contested South Florida state Senate seat, the issue of campaign cash transparency has become a top-tier issue headed into the final stretch, but those lobbing the political bombs are also getting support from groups that make their contributions often next to impossible to trace.
Republican state Sen. Miguel Díaz de la Portilla has hit Rep. José Javier Rodríguez, his Democratic opponent, for the millions of dollars in help he is getting from groups associated with the so-called Florida Alliance, a group of progressive donors who are helping boost his campaign. The Alliance subsets are largely organized as 501(c)4s, which means they don’t have to disclose their donors.
For that reason, Díaz de la Portilla, has slammed Rodríguez for getting “dark money” help, and gone directly after Chris Findlater, one of the Alliance’s founders.
“Rodríguez should come clean for all the public to see,” he told POLITICO Florida Friday. “There is too much corruption in the Rodríguez campaign.”
Díaz de la Portilla’s own campaign, however, is also getting a big boost from a maze of political committees that quickly transfer large sums of money in a way that makes the true source of campaign help nearly impossible to find.
Late last month, a political committee called Truth in Politics, blanketed Senate District 27 with mailers blasting Rodríguez for voting against budgets that had record education funding. It highlights his votes against the state budget in 2014 and 2015, years when Democrats opposed the spending plan for things like not expanding Medicaid, using local tax dollars to boost education funding, and not spending enough on conservation efforts.
On Oct. 28, the committee spent $229,574 on mailers, by far its largest expenditure in months. Nearly $225,000, about half of the group’s total contributions, came in the last week of October from another political committee called Leadership for Florida’s Future, a group that received its last eight contributions (more than $600,000) from yet another political committee, Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy.
That committee has received recent contributions from a whole range of additional political committees with large contributions from groups like U.S. Sugar, Disney, and Charter Schools USA.
Díaz de la Portilla says he knows nothing about the groups, which include some of the state’s best known political consultants and donors.
“I don’t know what ‘Truth in Politics’ is and who is behind it,” he said. “However…all political committees must disclose the amount, source, and nature to he contributions, and the identity of contributors.”
While technically true, because the money moves through several different committees, it makes it impossible to determine exactly which donors were funding the anti-Rodríguez mailers.
Rodríguez declined comment when contacted by POLITICO Florida.
…Díaz de la Portilla started their own political committee separate from the union and trial attorney interests that support the incumbent. The committee — South Florida Future — has raised $1 million, to help Rodríguez and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat challenger to Republican Sen. Anitere Flores. That race has also split progressive donors.
The committee has raised $1 million, $600,000 of which came from Win Florida, a 501(c)4 that does not need to disclose donors. Findlater also gave the group $100,000. [READ MORE]