Sunday, May 01, 2016

Record Omits List of Campaign Contributors: Why?

Who gave orders to stop listing all campaign contributions in The St. Augustine Record? An FBI tape of developers several years ago revealed that they had convinced the Record to stop scrutinizing Commissioners' contributions. This stinks.

Outside money a big factor in St. Johns County Commission race
Posted: May 1, 2016 - 11:21pm | Updated: May 2, 2016 - 2:52am

With the primary election just months away, many St. Johns County races are heating up as campaign coffers continue to expand and candidates drop in and out.

Up for grabs are three seats on the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners. If campaign donor lists are a reliable indicator, the big countywide issue will once again be growth and everything that comes with it.

Contributions to candidates for county offices are capped at $1,000, except for those coming from political parties or affiliated party committees.

Commissioner Jimmy Johns of District 1, representing much of the fast-growing northwest part of the county, is currently running unopposed but has nonetheless raised $69,800 and spent $4,480.

Financial reports on the St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections website show Jacksonville- and Ponte Vedra Beach-based developers, attorneys, real estate firms and consultants are among his most generous donor groups.

Of the 101 donors listed in Johns’ financial reports, 71 provided addresses outside St. Johns County, the majority of which were in Jacksonville.

Commissioner Rachael Bennett on Feb. 29 withdrew from the race for her District 5 seat, which represents much of the St. Augustine area up to International Golf Parkway.

Bennett cited personal reasons relating to her family, health and future for her decision, but left behind a considerable war chest of campaign funding.

According to finance reports, Bennett’s campaign received $31,120 in monetary contributions and spent $7,179.14.

Among her most generous donor groups were civil engineers and silviculture and investment firms, many of which provided Jacksonville addresses, as well as five St. Augustine-based real estate businesses providing an address at 77 Almeria St.

Vicky Oakes, supervisor of elections for the county, said Bennett can prorate and return the unspent money to contributors, donate the funds to a charitable organization or nonprofit, give not more than $25,000 to the Republican Party or give the money to the county’s general fund.

Bennett did not return a call for comment Friday.

Running for her seat are Dottie Acosta, a former top official at the St. Johns County Property Appraiser’s Office; Henry Dean, former head of the St. Johns River Water Management District; and Jake Riley, a data analyst.

Most of Acosta’s $5,950.61 raised has come out of her own pocket. The Republican candidate has spent $5,383.21 so far.

Dean, who filed to run as a Republican on Feb. 25, has raised $31,350 and spent $3,025. Much of his support has come from St. Johns- and Jacksonville-based real estate and investment firms.

Of the 53 donors listed in his financial reports, at least 30 provided addresses outside St. Johns County.

Riley has raised $5,054, all coming out of his own pocket. He has spent $33.84.

Filing on Jan. 20 as a Republican, he has since changed over to a non-party candidate.

Oakes said Acosta and Dean will face each other in the Aug. 30 primary and that the winner move on to the Nov. 8 general election to face Riley.

Republican Rose Bailey, a former bank vice president, withdrew from the District 5 race on April 4, having raised $10 of her own money.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Bill McClure on April 13 filed to run for an open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Republican is aiming to replace Rep. Ander Crenshaw, who represents Florida’s 4th Congressional District, recently announced he would not seek re-election. McClure is in the final year of his first term as a county commissioner, the first elective office he’s held.

The 4th district was redrawn last year and includes parts of Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties. McClure and his wife own homes in both Duval and St. Johns counties, and McClure says he has ties to each represented county.

In running for the County Commission spot, McClure did not seek campaign donations and conducted more what he called a grassroots campaign.

Vying for McClure’s District 3 seat, which represents the southeast part of St. Johns County, are former assistant county administrator Jerry Cameron and Paul M. Waldron. Both filed as Republicans.

Cameron possesses the largest campaign cashbox in the commission race, with $79,980 raised and $9,909.82 spent. His support is the among the most varied of local candidates, with civil engineers, real estate and investment firms, attorneys and consultants donating alongside retirees and other residents.

Of the 144 donors making monetary contributions to Cameron’s campaign, 77 provided St. Johns County addresses, with the rest of the 67 contributors providing mainly Jacksonville addresses.

Waldron, in the meantime, has raised $14,010 and spent $11,689.05.

Of his 59 donors making monetary contributions, all but seven provided St. Augustine addresses. A variety of support came from car dealers, insurers, home builders, RV parks and retirees.

Oakes said McClure would have to drop out of the U.S. House race in order to jump into the race for his own seat. She said no one can be counted out of the race until noon June 24, which marks the end of the qualifying period.

As of Saturday, there were 165,354 active registered St. Johns County voters, with 87,807 identifying as Republicans, 39,318 as Democrats and 38,229 as unaffiliated.


Morris1 05/02/16 - 12:11 am 40Why do you suppose....
... there's so much real estate money flowing towards the elected officials who control our real estate regulations?

sponger2 05/02/16 - 07:39 am 10Hasn't it become time...
Hasn't t it become time to begin cleaning up this process by legislating the end of out of county contributors to campaigns within St Johns County? I know it can be done, and I know it won't completely solve the problem because these folks are snakes, but it would be a place to start and build on.

Do we really want out of town or out of state interests to determine our growth future? They don't live here so we know they don't give a rats azz, they just want to cash in and leave us with the mess, and I think even the most simple among us can see that.

It's time we sent a message to get (and stay) out of our affairs. They have done enough damage already, and I would recommend voting for those who ONLY accept donations from in county, non real estate/developer motivated contributors. It's the only way to not replace one developer puppet with another developer puppet, and make no mistake, puppets they are. If we don't, it's only going to be more of the same, except faster and with more dire consequence

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

does land donated by real estate developers curry good faith with St. John's County officials?