Six wealthy donors gave large infusions of cash in record-setting Volusia race
(A wonderful News-Journal article by By Seth Robbins – hank recommends you read the complete article at http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20170121/six-wealthy-donors-gave-large-infusions-of-cash-in-record-setting-volusia-race )
…. Lax state regulations and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts on elections, have eased the way for wealthy individuals to give large infusions of cash, even in local elections. It’s a trend seen all over the country, including in Florida, where a watchdog group gave the state an F grade for political financing transparency….
… According to campaign finance documents and Florida’s Division of Corporations records, the largest contributions in the District 4 race came from companies and donations associated with George Anderson, developer of the Ocean Walk and a real estate investor; J. Hyatt Brown, chairman and chief executive officer of Brown & Brown Inc.; homebuilder Mori Hosseini, chairman and CEO of ICI Homes; Theresa Doan, whose beachside properties and investments include three Main Street bars; businesses affiliated with International Speedway Corp. and its president, John Saunders; and companies affiliated with Consolidated-Tomoka, a land holding company….
… He said that Brown & Brown has a long track record of giving to various political candidates and investing in other local endeavors, and he expects nothing in return….
…. The Volusia County Council, which has seven representatives, controls a budget of some $800 million. And its decisions can have far-reaching effects for big political donors.
It earmarked $20 million to help finance infrastructure for One Daytona, the mega hotel, shopping and entertainment complex owned by the International Speedway Corporation. The project, which ultimately received unanimous approval from the county council, is projected to bring 14,000 permanent jobs and more than $1 billion in annual direct economic impact, according to its developers and supporters. But critics of the deal said that taxpayer money should not go to a business worth billions…..
… Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University secured $1.5 million of county development funding for its research park, a project that was pushed by Hosseini, the chairman of ERAU’s board of trustees. The council also agreed to sell the university a piece of land for $400,000, half the price of its assessed value. In 2014, Hosseini implored the council not to provide a land use change that would have allowed a rival developer’s Publix to be built near a mixed-use development project he had been planning to construct….
…. Mike Scudiero, a consultant to Smith and other local politicians, said it was baseless speculation that the large infusions of cash seen in the District 4 race were intended to sway council votes….
… “I’m a little offended that that would pop into people’s minds,” she said. “If they knew me, and they knew all the discussions that I had with all these people, they would realize there is no conflict of interest.”…