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Doak funding controversy extends to campaign contributions in 2022 election

Doak funding controversy extends to campaign contributions in 2022 election
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 8:24 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 18, 2022 at 9:36 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A week away from the next Blueprint vote on the funding for Doak Campbell Stadium, the Leon County Democratic Party is making its position known on campaign contributions.

In a statement sent to WCTV, the party wrote:

“Motion – In light of recent news, the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee resolves that all campaign contributions to elected-officials and voting members of the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency or any public commission from persons currently or formerly affiliated with Florida State University leadership or leadership of its affiliates, including but not limited to the FSU Alumni Association, FSU Foundation, and Seminole Boosters, Inc. as well as anyone who may appear to financially benefit from the decisions of the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency (or any public commission) be returned or rejected in effort to maintain public trust.”

The decision over funding for Doak Campbell Stadium has divided many in the community; in a 7 to 5 vote, the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency decided to fund $20 million worth of infrastructure improvements.

Last week, the progressive government and politics blog Our Tallahassee published a look at Mayor Dailey’s campaign contributions.

Their report had County Commissioner Kristin Dozier on alert.

“I think this is why the news in the last day or say, of campaign contributions from those in leadership at the Boosters and Board of Trustees, it’s their prerogative, but it looks to many, that those contributions are driving public policy, because we have no good answer. The facts are what they are,” Dozier said in an interview last week.

Dozier has been against the funding from the start.

“The community is sick of it. We are sick of things happening in the shadows, of the perceived or actual corruption, and of really looking like campaign contributions or relationships are driving some of the most important decisions we’ve ever made,” Dozier said.

After the report was released, the Leon County Democratic Party released its statement.

Mayor Dailey responded to the statement in an interview on Wednesday, adding that no one from the party had reached out to him.

“By rough estimates, of about 100,000 people who either graduated, work for, or support Florida State here locally, to suggest that they should not participate in the democratic process is voter suppression and I seriously will never ever support that,” Dailey said.

WCTV dug into the data on campaign contributions for sitting City and County Commissioners who are up for reelection and voted in favor of the Doak funding.

We looked at data going back to May of 2021 for five local leaders: Mayor John Dailey, City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox, County Commissioner Nick Maddox, County Commission Chair Bill Proctor, and County Commissioner Rick Minor. (Minor changed his vote at the December 2021 Blueprint meeting, but due to his previous support, WCTV looked at his data as well.)

In our research, we found a total of $11,500 donated to Dailey by members of four groups: FSU’s Board of Trustees, the FSU Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, the FSU Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and the Seminole Boosters.

WCTV did not include past Booster chairs or businesses connected to trustees in that number; some of those people also gave Dailey’s campaign money.

“I think that everybody who’s running for office has probably received donations from FSU alumni, Boosters supporters, maybe those that work at the university,” Dailey said. “I have no idea. But, I’d be willing to bet, if you look at everybody’s financial disclosure, we’re a college town.”

City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox’s campaign has received $500 from a single Seminole Booster.

In a phone conversation, she told WCTV, “I don’t discriminate who I take contributions from. I don’t know who’s FSU and who’s not. I don’t figure out who’s who.”

Leon County Commissioners Nick Maddox, Bill Proctor, and Rick Minor had not received any donations from the four groups listed above.

Multiple Commissioners have received donations from people affiliated with FSU generally, including alumni and current employees.

Commissioner Proctor took issue with some of Dailey’s comments, penning a letter referencing what he calls the “Southside 8,” a group of precincts he believes should be annexed into the City. The letter reads as follows:

Mayor Dailey:

In your interview yesterday, you said: “To suggest they should not participate in the democratic process is voter suppression and I will seriously never ever support that.” 2-16-2022

You were bald-faced lying Mayor John Dailey. You do support voter suppression. Black citizens who pay city utilities in 8 Southside voting precincts are suppressed and truly denied the right to vote! You do nothing at all to change this taxation without representation exploitation formula upon them.

City Commissioners Matlow and Porter in 2022 sought the city’s review of a situation I have repeatedly brought to your awareness. The Tallahassee City Commissioners, including you John Dailey, refused to vote for city staff to review the Issues I have presented to you again and again. Your silence is hostile. Your do nothing at all stance against empowering black utility customers with the right to vote in city elections demonstrates your opposition to democracy and against voter empowerment. You support voter suppression, exclusion, and denial as the Mayor of Tallahassee.

I am offended that in the middle of Black History Month you cite voter suppression as an act of you not turning down campaign contributions especially from those directly affected by a pending 27-million-dollar bond issue vote you will cast next Thursday. Campaign contributions for your campaign, in no way, has any semblance to struggles inherent with the 15th Amendment, the 1965 Voter Rights, Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettis Bridge, John Lewis Voters Law, and other policies designed to protect and establish democracy and voting rights for disenfranchised black citizens who are the sons and daughters of African slaves.

Your comments have nothing to do with the aforementioned struggles. I am certain Harry T. and Harriette Moore and Fannie Lou Hamer would view your comments as diabolical and incredibly stupid.

White people have no insecurities over voter suppression. White voters historically are not baptized in the fires of lynching, bombings, and killings from which black citizens rights to vote emanated.

Enriching your political coffer before a 27-million-dollar vote is most revealing. Campaign greed and voter suppression are spectacularly different.

The collective integrity of those who support the FSU stadium project can now be questioned by the appalling shadow of doubt your recent campaign contribution receipts, recently cast upon all of us. Enriching your political coffers in the name of upholding the democratic process or preventing voter suppression is a wild rant you should apologize for making.

Jim Crow. Post-reconstruction. Reconstruction. Slavery

You have no clue what “voter suppression” means. It certainly has nothing to do with disallowing white contributors from giving to your reelection. Why aren’t you speaking at today’s NAACP voter rally at the state capitol? People who oppose Senate Bill 524 and voter suppression gathered without you. Every City Commissioner was present except you John Dailey. Your absence speaks volumes about your indifference to empowering black people with city voting rights.

Voter suppression is a real serious experience for black people in Tallahassee, the state of Florida and across multiple jurisdictions. The timing of your comments is incongruent with voter suppression now occurring to black citizens. Worse, you have belittled the term “voter suppression” at the height of Black History Month. There are two things, as mayor you should do:

1. Apologize for abusing and misusing the term voter suppression.

2. Join commissioner Matlow and Porter’s efforts to extend voters right to the Southside 8.

When will you stop suppressing the voting rights of black utility customers who pay for city utilities, but cannot vote in city elections because of you?

You do support black voter suppression!

T.S. Eliot, in essence said: “There is no greater heresy than to do the right thing for the wrong reason.”

The next vote on the funding for Doak Campbell Stadium will be Feb. 24.

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