THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, May 4, 2012
Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida
With Gov. Rick Scott making plans to run for re-election in 2014, a closely linked political committee raised more than $1 million in April --- and has already collected nearly $2 million this year, according to the committee's website.
The Let's Get To Work Committee received $1.06 million last month, after collecting $918,703 earlier in the year, a list of contributors on the website shows. As a point of comparison, the Florida Democratic Party raised about $1.2 million between Jan. 1 and March 31.
Scott, whose upstart 2010 campaign enjoyed heavy backing from the committee, made clear recently that he will seek a second term.
"I'm running for re-election,'' the Republican said. "I like this job. This is the best job you can imagine."
Committees such as Let's Get To Work are not bound by the campaign-finance limits placed on candidates, who cannot accept individual contributions of more than $500. Let's Get To Work reported on the website that it received three contributions of $100,000 each in April.
Those contributions came from The Geo Group, Progress Energy and a political committee linked to the Florida Optometric Association --- all of which have major legislative or regulatory issues in state government.
Geo, which operates private prisons, has been involved during the past year in a legislative controversy about privatizing correctional facilities across the southern part of the state. Progress, meanwhile, has interests in numerous energy-related issues in the Legislature and at the Public Service Commission, while optometrists have long lobbied for expanded drug-prescribing powers.
Other major donors in April included New York developer Donald Trump and Jacksonville developer David Hutson, who each gave $50,000, according to the committee website.
The committee also received numerous smaller contributions from people or companies that have interests in state government. As examples, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which has a major stake in gambling issues, and the school operator Charter Schools USA each gave $5,000.
Longtime lobbyist John French, who is listed on the website as the committee's coordinator, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. The information also shows the committee spent less than $21,000 during April, with the money appearing to go to relatively routine consulting and accounting costs.
Scott has not opened a campaign account for the 2014 race, but he is almost sure to have a huge funding advantage over any potential opponent. Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, opened a campaign account last month to seek the Democratic nomination, but she has not been required to report contributions yet.