TALLAHASSEE | Florida lawmakers are barred from raising campaign cash during the legislative session.
But during the days and hours before the annual session started March 3, about $1.3 million poured into lawmakers’ campaign accounts — with large chunks of money coming from businesses or groups with interests in the Capitol, according to newly filed campaign-finance reports.
A search of the state Division of Elections database shows that contributions dated March 1 through March 3 to House candidates totaled $710,000. Contributions to Senate candidates — including some to candidates running in 2018 — totaled nearly $600,000. Almost all of the money went to sitting lawmakers.
With one notable exception, the largest amounts of money during the abbreviated fundraising period went to Senate candidates.
As examples, Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, raised $69,950, and Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, collected $47,000, as they run for re-election in 2016, according to the Division of Elections website. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican who is running for the Senate in 2016, brought in $46,270.
The notable exception is House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who will become House speaker in 2016 if he gets re-elected in his Pasco County district.