By Jim Turner
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
Republican Frank White, who has started a million-dollar ad run in his bid for attorney general, reported his campaign brought in more than $1.3 million in May, with much of the money coming from his own checkbook.
White’s monthly total topped the rest of the Republican field seeking to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody continued to roll up monthly six-figure totals, while state Rep. Jay Fant of Jacksonville posted another relative quiet fundraising month, according to numbers on the state Division of Elections website.
On the Democratic side, state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa continued to far outpace his primary-election opponent Ryan Torrens.
The May figures were posted Monday, a week before the official qualifying period opens for state offices.
White, a state House member from Pensacola who also serves as general counsel and chief financial officer for the chain of Sandy Sansing auto dealerships, added $1.25 million of his own money into the contest on May 29.
The Sansing dealerships and White’s in-laws, who own the chain, have given at least $204,000 to the campaign and a closely aligned political committee known as United Conservatives but weren’t among the May contributors. However, White drew $27,750 from 14 auto dealers and dealerships across the state.
He also picked up $10,000 contributions from a Florida Insurance Council political committee and the Florida Prosperity Fund, which is tied to the business group Associated Industries of Florida.
White also put $1.5 million of his own money into the contest in October. Hs campaign and United Conservatives had an overall total of $3.4 million on hand as June began.
Last week, White’s campaign announced a $1 million TV ad campaign, titled “Hold Accountable,” which pushes his conservative views.
Meanwhile, Moody posted about $449,000 in cash contributions in May, which marked the 12th straight month she has recorded more than $100,000 in contributions to her campaign account and the political committee Friends of Ashley Moody.
Moody’s May totals were topped by an $85,000 contribution to her committee from Coral Gables real estate investor Hugh Culverhouse. Moody also received $30,000 from Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, which is tied to Associated Industries of Florida; $25,000 from Third Lake Capital, a Tampa financial services firm; and $25,000 from the William Edwards Revocable Trust.
Moody, whose May financial report showed $99,147 via in-kind campaign assistance from the Republican Party of Florida, started June with more than $2 million in her campaign account and the political committee.
Overall, the state party has provided Moody’s campaign with $333,062 in in-kind consulting, research and staffing assistance, something other candidates have not had.
Fant, who started June with about $800,000 in his personal account and a political committee called Pledge This Day, posted just $1,640 in contributions last month.
Buoyed by a $750,000 self-contribution last September, Fant campaign hasn’t had a month where his campaign account has drawn more than $10,000 since December.
Fant, White and Shaw, as state lawmakers, were prohibited from raising money during the annual legislative session, which ran from Jan. 9 to March 11.
Fant’s Pledge This Day committee brought in $105,000 in March, but otherwise has also been below the $10,000 mark each month this year.
In the Democratic contest, Shaw posted $173,181 in May to his campaign account and the political committee Sean Shaw for Florida.
Shaw’s contributions were dominated by contributions from the legal industry, including $25,000 from Miami personal-injury attorney Robert Rubenstein; $10,000 from the Jacksonville-based personal injury law firm Pajcic & Pajcic; and $10,000 from the West Palm Beach-based Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley.
Shaw, a former state insurance consumer advocate, started June with $404,969 available in the two accounts.
Torrens, an attorney from Hillsborough County who has been running on the Democratic side for a year, picked up $3,492 in May. Torrens, who had raised a total of $103,911 since he filed to run, had spent all but $1,992.