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Millions Already Flowing to Pro-Scott Ads

May 12, 2014 - 6:00pm

More than six months before the general election, a committee backing Gov. Rick Scott's re-election spent $5.1 million on advertising in April, newly filed campaign-finance reports show.

The spending by the "Let's Get to Work" committee was far greater than the combined $1.3 million raised last month by the committee and Scott's re-election campaign. But the committee still had roughly $18.4 million available to spend and the campaign had about $3.1 million as of April 30.

The Scott campaign and the committee released the numbers as state candidates and political committees faced a Monday deadline for filing reports detailing contributions and spending through April. Reports trickled onto the state Division of Elections website throughout the day.

A committee backing Scott's leading challenger, Democrat Charlie Crist, reported raising nearly $1.3 million in April, buoyed in part by a $500,000 contribution from the Democratic Governors Association. The committee, dubbed "Charlie Crist for Florida," had raised $6.6 million through April while spending only $617,900.

The updated totals for Crist's campaign account had not been posted late Monday afternoon on the Division of Elections website.

With money flowing into the political parties and outside political committees, the contributions to Scott and Crist only provide a partial picture of how the campaign's finances are taking shape. The Republican Party of Florida, for example, sent out a news release Monday indicating it had raised $1.72 million in April and that at least part of that money would go toward helping Scott.

"We look forward to continuing to paint a clear and accurate picture for voters of Charlie Crist'?s failed economic record vs. the turnaround Florida has experienced under Rick Scott," state party Executive Director Juston Johnson said in a prepared statement that repeated one of the GOP's common lines of attack against Crist, a former Republican governor who later became a Democrat.

Overall, the reports filed Tuesday showed continuing huge fundraising leads for Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. Bondi had raised a total of nearly $1.16 million for her campaign account through April, while Putnam and Atwater had each topped $1.7 million.

Former Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon, a Democrat running for attorney general, had raised a total of $212,386 through April. But none of the other Democratic candidates for the three Cabinet seats had collected more than $102,392, the total raised by attorney-general candidate Perry Thurston.

The April reports do not include additional contributions flowing to incumbent members of the state Senate and House because they are barred from raising money during the legislative session. The 60-day session ended May 2.

But nonincumbent legislative candidates could collect campaign cash in April. Among the top fundraisers in April was Panama City Republican Jay Trumbull, who raised $23,950 last month as he seeks to replace term-limited Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, in House District 6.

Similarly, former Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, raised $23,625 in April as he runs in House District 25. Costello is seeking to replace Rep. Dave Hood, a Daytona Beach Shores Republican who is running for a circuit-judge position.

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