Thursday, August 23, 2018

Pay to Play On The Ballot

Five downtown Tampa special interests contributed $150K each to fund the "All for Transit" (AFT) transit tax hike petition effort. Those five special interests bought their way onto the November ballot.

Five downtown Tampa special interests donated a total of $750K to buy putting a massive and unnecessary 30 year transit tax hike that will raise the sales tax to the highest in the state - 8% - on the November ballot.

Below is the entire AFT donor list from when they were first created in June to their latest campaign filing through 8/10/2018 (on SOE website). A total of 15 donations were made to what AFT called a "community" led tax hike petition effort.
Five donors donated $750K of the total $750.7K
(click to enlarge)
AFT's logo describes themselves as a "community" led effort.

In a county where 1.4 million reside, it was actually a microscopic community of 5 special interest donors who paid consultants and petition gatherers to get the transit tax hike on the ballot. A dismal $700.72 came from 10 other donors. 15 whopping donors in all.

AFT's "community" led transit tax hike effort ignored or disregarded the largest employer community in the county - the Hillsborough County School district. AFT not only disregarded or ignored the school district who has been considering a school district sales tax increase, AFT was able to leap frog right over the School district's request for their OPPAGA audit - as we reported here.

The 5 downtown Tampa special interests were the bank account for AFT. Without the $750K from them, All for Transit transit tax hike would not be on the November ballot.

Because from AFT's latest campaign filings through August 10th on the SOE website:  $750K from 5 downtown Tampa special interests went into AFT's coffers who then spent $677.4K to get the transit tax hike on the November ballot.
AFT Donors and Expenditures
Over 92% ($625K) was spent on paid petition gatherers, some of whom did not even live in Hillsborough County. Yes - AFT hired people who cannot vote in Hillsborough to tell voters who can vote in Hillsborough to raise their taxes.

Mercury was one of the PR firms who wanted the Go Hillsborough advocacy campaign. The Times reported in 2016 it was Mercury who did the poll "financed by unidentified business interests" on the Go Hillsborough one-half percent tax hike.

Those business interests are no longer "unidentified".

Some of them, Vinik and Morsani, then bailed out the financially distressed Tampa Bay Times last year. As Florida Politics reported, La Gaceta publisher Patrick Manteiga raised concerns:
“(T)he Times has taken itself out of being fair and balanced when writing about Vinik, his companies and the deals government is making with him,” Manteiga writes.
The same special interests who bought their way onto the ballot also bailed out the Tampa Bay Times. The special interests now have their own media megaphone to cheer lead for their transit tax hike and filter out, shut down and ignore any opposition.

AFT would have about $73K left from the 5 downtown Tampa special interests donations of $750K after spending $677K.

AFT also has a nonprofit, Keep Hillsborough Moving, that is the PAC's connected organization. Nonprofit donors and expenditures are hidden from the public so the nonprofit will also have donors and expenditures outside all transparency. The public will never know who the donors or what monies and expenditures are used through the nonprofit.

But….political advocacy campaigns cannot be legally run through a nonprofit.

Therefore, AFT's coffers must be replenished real soon to launch an aggressive marketing and targeted voter campaign over the next 75 days.

Expectations are that multi-millions will be dumped into the deceptive advocacy campaign trying to buy the election.

And the Eye will be watching.

No comments:

Post a Comment