TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Millions of dollars, much of it coming from the corporations that rely on Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature, have flowed into the coffers of the state's two political parties this election year.
New campaign finance reports filed Friday show that the Republican Party of Florida raised nearly $15 million between the start of April and Aug. 21. The Florida Democratic Party raised $13.3 million during the same time period. This is the final report before the primary.
But the gap between the two parties — which are locked in a battle to win the governor's mansion — is actually wider than it appears.
Republicans took money from high-powered corporations such as U.S. Sugar and Disney as well as private prison company The Geo Group. All are companies whose bottom line can be affected by actions taken by the Legislature and the governor.
The GOP also got hefty donations from trade groups that represent Florida's large corporations and $225,000 from an arm of a company seeking to build a major casino in downtown Miami. Other well-known donors include Donald Trump, who gave the party $100,000 while his daughter donated another $25,000.
Republicans maintain that the money that has gone to the party and to Scott's re-election campaign will give them an advantage heading into the November election.
"With 74 days left to go, Governor Scott's re-election campaign is well-positioned and well-resourced for victory," said Republican Party of Florida Chairwoman Leslie Dougher.
By contrast, the largest Democratic donor over the past several months was a political committee aligned with former Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist's political committee has donated $7.8 million to the party since April. Crist was elected as a Republican but is challenging Scott as a Democrat. The party has started paying for television ads that have gone after Scott.
Crist has raised nearly $20 million between his campaign and his political committee since jumping into the race, while Scott has pulled in nearly $43 million through his two main accounts. Republicans say that Scott has also been raising money directly for the party, which is airing its own political ads.
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