Politics

Democratic Candidate Gets $225,000 Boost from Sole Super-PAC Donor, His Dad

By: William Patrick FloridaWatchdog.org | Posted: August 4, 2014 3:55 AM
Martine Rothblatt

Martine Rothblatt

A congressional candidate in Florida is getting a boost from a super political action committee with one donor, which happens to be his dad.

But there’s a twist.

Gabriel Rothblatt’s father, Martine, used to be Martin Rothblatt before undergoing gender reassignment surgery. She -- Martine -- founded Sirius Satellite Radio and a Maryland-based biotech company that paid her $38 million in compensation last year, according to Forbes.

Martine Rothblatt was rated the second-highest compensated executive in the Washington, D.C., region in 2007, according to the Washington Post.

The 8th Congressional District, in which Rothblatt is running, includes Kennedy Space Center.

Gabriel Rothblatt

Gabriel Rothblatt

Such vast, available resources, coupled with elite connections, could go a long way toward unseating the incumbent Republican with little outside name recognition, U.S. Rep. Bill Posey.

Interestingly, Rothblatt’s super-PAC is called SpacePAC.

“We are SpacePAC Space Political Affairs Committee, based in Washington, D.C.. with primary intent to make man’s access to space not a destination but a regular activity,” reads the super-PAC’s website.

Rothblatt is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Entries on the candidate’s site call for a 21st century space program and accuse Posey of lying about a NASA project during a U.S. House Subcommittee on Space, of which Posey is a member.

According to a financial disclosure statement, SpacePAC “intends to raise funds in unlimited amounts,” and “will not use those funds to make contributions, whether direct, in-kind, or via coordinated communications, to federal candidates or committees.”

Records show Martine Rothblatt contributed $225,000 to SpacePAC last quarter. Additionally, SpacePAC’s treasurer is a former federal regulatory lawyer and now influential attorney associated with United Therapeutics Corp., Martine Rothblatt’s pharmaceutical company.

Federal election laws prohibit super-ACs from coordinating with candidates, but the close familial ties in this case could easily complicate those restrictions -- and already may have.

Russ Lemmon, a reporter for the area newspaper Treasure Coast Palm, took Rothblatt to task over SpacePAC-funded political signs.

“First, they are out way too early. Second, they are in places where campaign signs simply aren’t allowed,” Lemmon wrote. But if the candidate’s campaign removed the PAC’s signs, it could constitute an improper coordination, Rothblatt admitted.

Watchdog.org contacted candidate Rothblatt’s campaign for comment but did not receive a response. A spokesman for Bill Posey’s campaign told Watchdog.org that he was aware of SpacePAC’s connection to Rothblatt, but declined to comment further.

Nearby progressive U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., is an outspoken critic of super-PACs and unlimited political spending. Deutch is co-sponsoring a proposed federal constitutional amendment to overturn recent changes in campaign finance laws that allow them. The legislation has the support of many House Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“The Democracy is for All Amendment will reverse highly controversial Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC, which have given corporations and the wealthiest donors the right to buy unlimited influence in our elections,” said Deutch in a statement.

“Our electoral democracy is based on the premise that the voice of a billionaire is worth no more than that of a schoolteacher,” said Deutch.

Rothblatt is endorsed by the Teamsters, a powerful labor union, and the National Organization for Women, a feminist group. The district includes Brevard and Indian River counties, and parts of Orange County.


William Patrick covers government waste, fraud and abuse for Watchdog.org's Florida bureau. wpatrick@watchdog.org 


Tags: News, Politics

Comments (4)

Patricia Lavins
6:01PM AUG 4TH 2014
There is nothing in this story that is derogatory about Gabriel Rothblatt or his family. All the actions taken have been both ethical and legal. In the history of American politics there have been legions of incidents when family members help to get one of their own elected.

Florida Watchdog should be doing investigative work on the voting record of Bill "Birther" Posey throughout his multiple terms as an elected official. He has yet to do anything beneficial for the people in his Congressional District that he is alleged to represent. His ties with ALEC and Koch Brothers require him to be a member in good standing in the "Party of No."
Mike C
9:05AM AUG 4TH 2014
I've always hated PACs,but since the conservatives whined and dined over the notion of PACs being regulated,they deregulated them further to suit their goals. Now their political enemies (other PACs) are utilizing the same laws to oust Republicans. What we have here is a Florida's District 8 is full of conservative cry babies that are doing everything from mocking his family to provoking the Rothblatt campaign into violating the law. Its time for Posey and the Republican leadership on the Treasure Coast to take a hike.
Patricia Lavins
5:54PM AUG 4TH 2014
Mike is so correct. Bill "Birther" Posey is going to easily be defeated not because of a SuperPac but rather because he has served multiple terms and has yet to do anything beneficial for the people of this Congressional District. Being represented in the U. S. House of Representatives by Bill "Birther" Posey has been an embarrassment.
Mike C
9:05AM AUG 4TH 2014
I've always hated PACs,but since the conservatives whined and dined over the notion of PACs being regulated,they deregulated them further to suit their goals. Now their political enemies (other PACs) are utilizing the same laws to oust Republicans. What we have here is a Florida's District 8 is full of conservative cry babies that are doing everything from mocking his family to provoking the Rothblatt campaign into violating the law. Its time for Posey and the Republican leadership on the Treasure Coast to take a hike.

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