August ended in failure for the Florida Legislature when it could not produce a redistricting plan before the end of its court-mandated special session.
But financially, it was anything but a failure for some of the top future leaders in the Florida Senate when it came to raising money from lobbyists and interest groups.
Legislators were prohibited from raising money during the 12-day special session under legislative rules, but more than made up for it during the rest of the month.
State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, raised $65,000 in August for a PAC he called Innovate Florida. Of that, $50,000 came in the final 10 days of the month after the Legislative special session on redistricting fizzled out. Donations to Galvano, who is already in line to be Senate president for the 2019 Legislative session, included $30,000 from a political action committee called Floridians United for Our Children’s Future, a conservative group with ties to the Associated Industries of Florida. He's now raised over $520,000 for his PAC in 2015.
State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who announced last week he has the votes to become Senate president for 2017, raised just over $26,000 for a political action committee he is affiliated with called Treasure Coast Alliance. That included $10,000 checks from AT&T and the Florida Shopping Center PAC. His top rival for the senate presidency, Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala raised even more, topping $63,000 in August for his political action committee called Florida Leadership Committee. That included $10,000 checks from Duke Energy and Florida Blue.
Those monthly totals add to what has already been a big fundraising year for both committees. Negron's Treasure Coast Alliance raised now raised almost $1.1 million this year, according to the Florida Division of Elections. Latvala's Florida Leadership Committee had raised almost $900,000.
State Sen. Wilton Simpson, a Pasco County Republican in line to be Senate president after Galvano, outdid them all. Simpson’s Jobs For Florida PAC raised $147,000 in August, including $10,000 checks from Florida Blue and Agro-Industrial Management of West Palm Beach. He's now over $400,000 in his fund.
Political action committees are unlike typical campaign committees, which have strict limits on campaign donations. Political action committees can take substantially larger donation checks. The funds are typically used to help support allies and other campaigns that can grow a legislative leaders influence.