Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group co-founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said Thursday that in addition to throwing $2 million behind Democratic candidates seeking Florida cabinet positions, it will be dedicating $1.8 million solely to agriculture commissioner nominee Nikki Fried and attorney general hopeful Sean Shaw.
The organization told the Miami Herald that it supports “gun-sense” candidates like Fried, who called for a full audit of the concealed-weapons permit process, and Shaw, who released an ad detailing his experience standing up to the National Rifle Association and pushing for stronger gun laws.
Fried’s call for reform has been a marquee issue on her campaign. Fried, who owns a gun and has a concealed weapons permit, released a video and letter last month distancing herself from the NRA with a clear message: “I won’t be beholden to you.” The agriculture commissioner’s office oversees the concealed-weapons permitting process.
The letter, addressed to NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, responds to a Tampa Bay Times report that revealed emails between Hammer and officials within the agriculture commissioner’s office.
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Her push for reform of the department comes after a report released earlier this year revealed that for more than a year, the department did not properly review background checks on tens of thousands of applicants for concealed-weapons permits. The lapse in background checks was attributed to an employee who had problems logging into the system.
In the video, Fried points out that her opponent, Fort Myers Rep. Matt Caldwell, is endorsed and given an “A-plus” rating by the NRA. She also references Caldwell’s contentious vote against the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
Fried said she’s proud that Everytown supports her mission to make the state safer when it comes to license regulation.
“After the failures of the previous administration and their too-close-for-comfort relationship with the NRA, Floridians are ready for an independent leader who will get the job done,” she said.
Shaw’s 15-second digital ad shows a highlight reel of the candidate taking on the NRA in court, fighting to ban assault weapons and strengthening background checks.
In a statement, Everytown said the hefty investment make it clear that no matter the race, the organization is “committed to supporting candidates who prioritize public safety over gun lobby profits.”
“For years, Florida has been a laboratory for the gun lobby’s most dangerous ideas — but that’s about to change,” said Everytown president John Feinblatt. “Nikki Fried is committed to cleaning up Florida’s gun permitting system, and Sean Shaw will enforce laws in a way that respects both public safety and the Second Amendment.”
The original $2 million from Everytown included direct contributions to Fried, Shaw and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. The group said it had not been decided how the $1.8 million would be split up between Fried and Shaw.
Late last month, Everytown gave $250,000 to Gillum’s political committee and $25,000 to Fried’s campaign. Also in September, the nonpartisan group gave $200,000 to a political committee run by incoming state Senate president Bill Galvano, a prominent Republican.