Boca Raton City Council Campaign Financing: FOLLOWING THE MONEY!

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Campaign Contribution Update

BocaWatch is committed to providing readers with a meaningful analysis of campaign contributions for upcoming elections.  At the present time four of the five current Boca Raton City Council members have filed to run for various offices.  As always, the money received by each candidate, and where it comes from, tells us an important story.  For our initial report, we focus on one item only; total dollar amounts raised by each candidate through the most recent filing date of November 30, 2017.  We have excluded contributions made by the candidates to their own campaign.  After analysis of the next required filing we will present an updated report with much greater detail focusing solely on those races that are competitive.  That report promises to be much more revealing.  Don’t miss it!

NOTE:  This Report covers contributions received through November 30, 2017.  The December 2017 campaign contribution report is due January 10.

Final qualifying filing date by candidates for the March 2018 election is January 10.  Additional candidates have until then to enter the race.

Big Money in Boca Politics

It wasn’t always this way.  Big money from special interest groups didn’t attempt to dominate elections to the extent they do today.  As recent as the year 2009, Anthony Majhess defeated Boca Raton icon Mike ‘M.J.’ Arts with relatively meager campaign financing of about $15,000.  Since then, campaign funding has ballooned to ridiculous proportions for a city the size of Boca.  Consider the fact that in the March 2017 election, new resident-friendly City Council member, Andrea Levine O’Rourke, spent $65,000 to win her seat in a three-way race while her main opponent, Andy Thomson, raised and spent $86,000.  Mr. Thomson was heavily, almost exclusively, funded by special interests of the legal and development community.  However, those amounts pale in comparison to the $133,381 reported by Mayor Susan Haynie’s March 2017 reelection campaign.  Many of the same special interest sources/contributors funding Thomson were an important funding factor for Ms. Haynie.

 

And Then There is the ‘Dark Money’

If you have voted in past municipal elections you most certainly have experienced receiving the vicious political mailers from Tallahassee based PAC’s that are personal attacks on candidates opposing their favored candidates that are generally way over the top.  PAC’s have separate funding laws that allow them to receive unlimited amounts of money from special interest groups.  In the case of Boca Raton, that generally meant those contributors that benefit from development and those elected officials advancing the concerns of these special interests..

Obviously, the development community has much to gain by placing the right people in office to do their bidding.  PAC money not only funds the over the top mailers, it can also fund the creation of an expensive TV campaign to shape the message of their choice.  This type of high cost campaign is generally out of the reach of the candidate who is funded by individuals.  Ms. Haynie took advantage of this tactic last March with PAC money behind her that was beyond the amount reported on her filings.  Part of that PAC money went to creating and delivering the outrageous, and untruthful ‘hit piece’ mailers that defined her campaign as one of personal attacks having little or nothing to do with the issues that are important to Boca Raton.

The moniker of ‘Dark Money’ comes from the fact that the donors are hard to trace and are not affiliated directly with a campaign.  These unaffiliated sources allow the candidate to claim “My campaign had nothing to do with it.”

A word to the wise:  When investigating campaign funding look for those candidates that receive an inordinate amount from special interests.  The probabilities are high that those same candidates will have significant PAC money, ‘Dark Money’ behind them.

What You Need to Know Now

Comparison of all candidates indicates that Councilman Weinroth has received as much as all other candidates combined (see pie charts below).  The main reasons for this advantage:  1. He was first to file.  2. He has an opponent.  3. The majority of his funds come from special interests that benefit from development in Boca Raton. By contrast Monica Mayotte began her campaign in October and her contributions are overwhelmingly from individuals.

The fact that Councilman Weinroth has received over $105,000 through November, makes it possible he will set a record for fund raising for a Boca Raton City Council seat.  Where that money comes from is another matter, and will be analyzed along with all others in competitive races in our next Campaign Contribution Update.

 

March 13, 2018 – Boca Raton City Council

Long-time Boca Raton resident, Monica Mayotte has filed to challenge Council Member Robert Weinroth who is attempting to serve his final term.  Likewise, Council Member Jeremy Rodgers is attempting to serve his final term. Currently, Rodgers is running unopposed. Final filing date is January 10, 2018. (Note:  BocaWatch has now reported that new entrants have entered the City Council races.  Financial reports for these candidates will be reported on as they are filed in the upcoming weeks)

August 28, 2018 (Primary) November 6, 2018 – Palm Beach County Commission

Mayor Susan Haynie has filed to fill the term limited seat now held by former Boca Raton Mayor Steven Abrams. Mayor Haynie is currently running unopposed.  The filing deadline for candidates is no later than noon, June 22, 2018.

March 12, 2019 ­– Boca Raton Mayoral and City Council Special Election (tentative date)

Council Member Scott Singer has filed to replace Mayor Susan Haynie who will be forced to resign from her current office, win-lose-or draw, on November 6, 2018 due to election rules.  Mr. Singer is running unopposed and must vacate his council seat after the election in order to run for Mayor.  (Note:  Two new entrants have now filed to run for this seat.  BocaWatch will be reporting on their financial reports as these reports are received.)  Final filing date for candidates is to be determined.

Your vote is your voice!…. Remember to Vote March 13, 2018.

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