'Dark Money' Rains Down on Florida Republican Primary Races

'Dark Money' Rains Down on Florida Republican Primary Races

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres
|
August 7, 2022

Candidates for elected office, particularly congressional and senatorial candidates, like to moan and groan about “Dark Money” being spent against them in their respective campaigns, but are quick to show their elation when an independent expenditure is spent to help them.

“Dark Money” is spending by political organizations like Super PACs and is meant to influence political campaigns using funds that come from undisclosed sources.

In Florida, “Dark Money” is influencing just about every single competitive congressional race in the 2022 midterm election, including the contested primary races in Districts 7 and 13.

Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R), a firebrand conservative candidate in District 7, recently tweeted, “Dark money continues to flow into my race from RINOs and the Radical Left in an attempt to take me out.”

Rep. Sabatini added that voters could expect a “barrage of fake news attacks” against him because he was a “real threat to the Swamp.”

Sabatini, a former registered Democrat, was referring to a $104,964.00 independent expenditure filed against him by the American Liberty Action PAC.

But while there is a $105,000 negative direct mail piece buy against him, there is also $223.581.99 in “Dark Money”  advertising money allocated by several Super PACS in support of Sabatini's congressional campaign.

While he appears to condemn “Dark Money” being used against him, Sabatini has interviewed and has been actively pursuing the endorsement and financial support from arguably one of the largest “Dark Money” political organizations, Club for Growth.

The Club, as it’s known in Republican political circles, are kingmakers who drop big money into the congressional races they participate in.

For example, Club for Growth dropped over $1.3 million to help Rep. Byron Donalds with his primary in 2022.

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Combat veteran Cory Mills, who is in a heated primary race with Sabatini, has also interviewed with Club for Growth and was considered a top contender along with Sabatini, to receive the group's support.

The Floridian has learned that Club for Growth will be sitting out of this primary race.

According to the most recent FEC report, there has been another $12,688.50 in opposing independent expenditures made against Sabatini by the American Heartland PAC.

The report also shows that Navy SEAL Brady Duke, who recently mailed a negative contrast mailing against Mills, has benefitted from $288,333.33 in total independent expenditures made by Protect and Defend America PAC and SEAL PAC.

There aren’t any independent expenditures made in favor or against Cory Mills, or any of the other Republican candidates in the race—Erika Benfield, Scott Sturgill, Rusty Roberts, Ted Edwards, and Al Santos.

District 13

The contentious Republican primary race in Florida’s 13th District has seen well over $1,200,000 in Super PAC funds having been spent.

Club for Growth, which is supporting Trump-endorsed Anna Paulina Luna, has dropped $750,874.57 to oppose Attorney Kevin Hayslett.

In addition, other Super PACS have joined COG in support of Luna. In total, $866,060.44 has been spent by PACS  for Luna, with $554, 719.76 of that total coming from COG.

The Stand for FL Super PAC has countered COG with $450,000 in independent expenditures in support of Hayslett.

Of the $450,000, only $35,039.29 was allocated to attack Luna.

Attorney Amanda Makki, who lost in the 2022 Republican primary race against Luna, has not benefitted from nor has been a target of any Super PAC independent expenditure.

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning political journalist and Publisher of Floridianpress.com, Hispolitica.com, shark-tank.com, and Texaspolitics.com He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming, and biking. Javier is also a political consultant and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Follow on Twitter: @JavManjarres Email him at [email protected]

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