Campaign Coffers Gorge On Epic Special Interest Contributions


This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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This will be our final campaign finance report prior to the August 28th election. 

Early voting at the city library has emphasized a political ticket being presented by our city’s unions. As we have illustrated in prior reports, both Mayoral candidate Scott Singer and Seat A candidate Andy Thomson are heavily supported by special interest money in the form of; Legal donors, Developer Related donors, PAC’s and Unions.

Mayoral Race

True to his past record Mr. Singer has thus far recorded 49% of his funding from special interest groups and now has amassed more than $154,000 total for his campaign when you include in-kind contributions. By comparison, Singer’s opponent Al Zucaro has received $36,000 in total funding. Both totals exclude candidate’s loans to their campaigns.

City Council Seat A

Dubious congratulations to Andy Thomson! BocaWatch has been doing in-depth campaign finance analysis for several different elections covering seventeen different candidates (some are repeat candidates). Never have we seen the high percentage level of special interest money accruing to one candidate. Thomson has 61% of his funds from PAC’s and other special interest sources. And these numbers are greatly understated when you consider the PAC mailings paid separately on behalf of both Singer and Thomson that total many thousands of dollars. In Thomson’s case, the numbers also exclude the more than one hundred individual union member contributions that typically register at $25 each. Don’t take our word for it. Check out Thomson’s last two campaign finance reports here:

As for the other candidates for Seat A, Tamara McKee continues to struggle finding contributors and raised a mere $50 for the last reporting period. Meanwhile, BocaWatch endorsed candidate Kathy Cottrell, has raised 87% of her funding from individuals. A stark contrast to Andy Thomson. Ms. Cottrell has actually surpassed Thomson in dollar amount raised from individuals when you factor out Thomson’s individual union contributors.

Cottrell took 87% from individuals versus Thomson taking 29%. Thomson took 61% from Special Interests while Cottrell took 8% from them.

Cottrell took the least donations. McKee was second. Thomson took the most donations. Cottrell and Thomson had almost the same expenses while McKee's was half of theirs. A further examination of the expense side of the reports points out an oddity. Both Cottrell and Thomson have reported expenses in excess of $30,000. McKee, in spite of loaning her campaign $43,100, has expensed only $11,894 which is almost identical to the amount raised from others. It is almost as if the loaned money to her campaign is really not her’s to spend and may be there for appearance sake only to legitimize an otherwise wayward campaign. Wittingly or unwittingly, Ms. Mckee may be playing the part of a spoiler in this campaign by receiving votes that may have otherwise gone to a particular opponent, most likely Cottrell. We don’t know the answers, but it is a peculiarity. We have not witnessed this type of disconnect from any serious candidates over several campaign cycles.


Voters need to be aware that the City of Boca Raton union contracts will once again be under consideration in approximately one year. The unions along with the PAC’s and special interest groups have placed their bets on the candidates of their choice. BocaWatch will continue in its quest to elect those candidates it feels will best represent the residents of Boca Raton and not special interest groups.

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  1. Please validate your claims with specific names of Singer’s and Thompson’s contributors and the amount of their contributions. Without that, your report smacks of the typical accusations of a political opponent.
    “Show me the money”.

  2. Mr. Birman, I happen to follow all elections in this city quite closely. I have been able to find the that city’s website provides the information you seek. Just go to City Clerk,then Special Election. It is all public record.

  3. Another anonymous non-attributed BocaWatch article? Who penned this?

    How does BocaWatch determine what a special interest is? In my election, it seemed they treated anyone who was a laywer (including my best friend, the best man at my wedding) who wouldn’t know a boca special interest if it bit him. That’s just categorically flat-out wrong. Likewise for realtors? Business owners? I’m an engineer, and no apologist for lawyers, but it seems like a ton of individual donations get marked as special interest to tell the “BocaWatch story”.

    Post the calculation sheet so it shows all of the regular people you are calling special interest. Telling people the truth is resident friendly.

    And by the way, this blog run by someone who has run for different political offices how many times? Seems like a special interest.

    Here’s the full link to campaign reports:
    All public record.

    • Thanks for asking this question. The criteria that was used to define “Special Interest”, for the numbers used in this article, is as follows:
      1. IDENTIFIABLE PACS & political professionals (the reasoning should be clear)
      2. IDENTIFIABLE developers & development firms (on account of zoning & approval needs)
      3. IDENTIFIABLE lawyers & legal firms (on account of representing one or more of the above or having other needs relating to Council approval)

      That was “the bar” that defined which contributions were from special interests. To me this is too liberal of a bar because it omits practically everyone who works for the city, people who do have a genuine and direct interest in how the City is governed. They know first hand about what’s good and bad. But we didn’t count them in. Should we have? Were we too liberal and should the number be different? I think it’s entirely useful to have a strict definition of what a “special interest” is and adhere to it for analyses like this moving forward.

      Is it going to be a happy affair, to have everyone collaborate about why they think they should be counted out and why others should be counted in? If you want to do it on your Facebook Profile’s wall, host that discussion, I’d commend your bravery. Meanwhile we made an honest effort to have a factor that wasn’t too brutal. Should it have been more brutal? Should those slices be bigger? Smaller? Whatever the case let’s all agree on who should be in or out. We’re all working from the same numbers – let’s standardize our quantification methodology like a chemist has to standardize his analysis to agree with EPA methodology. You know I love that nerdy stuff.

    • The thing you’re saying about the lawyers though… I think it’s fair to count all lawyers. If you went through the list of lawyers and found the ones who would testify to never having any political aspirations or associations with people who’d benefit from council approval would it be small? Would that number of lawyers who would testify to that be negligible compared to the ones who couldn’t? What would be a fair way to split out the “non-special interest” attorneys from those who are justified in having an actual, tangible, special interest? How would you do the counting? A Poll? Maybe we could do that or something…. it’s a very interesting question. I love that you pointed to that as a specific example. Would your friend testify to that? What about the simple fact that HE’S FRIENDS WITH YOU? That seems like a pretty relevant fact, that he’s especially friendly to you. No?

  4. Perry,

    Like you tend to do, make false accusations in an effort to smear others, why are you too lazy to go to the City website? What, you have to be spoon fed? It’s right there for you and everyone to view. And please consider these facts listed on the City site as well:

    Singer voted 22 times to support development, as in his vote to use a vacant lot in your neighborhood to stage building materials for Tower 155. He did not stick up for your neighborhood., Meetings, CC meeting agenda you do the rest.

    Singer legislated and led the fight for allowing the variance to build on the beach – CC meeting 12/08/15. Watch it Perry, I have twice, all two hours of it.

    Contrast the relationship of Singer votes and where he gets his money. Study the numbers before you suggest the facts are inaccurate.

    Think of all the direct mail he sends out that is not accounted for @ 4,000 – 6,000 dollars each. You sir are uninformed because you are too lazy to seek the truth. Shame on you.

  5. Please don’t send me seeking information, Mr. O’Rourke. This article levels accusations at candidates competing with Mr. Zucaro. The public the truth. Either substantiate your accusations or Mr. Zucaro should remove this cheap hit piece, fancy graphics and all, from HIS BocaWatch website.

  6. Nailed it! The two graphics tell the story. “Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.” Albert Einstein

  7. Jeremy, you gave me a good laugh with your best friend who “wouldn’t know a special interest if it bit him”. Since he is a lawyer could you tell me his name?

  8. Now my two cents – my mailbox is jammed with 10 political poster board flyers, since I don’t go to it very often. These are large shiny marketing pieces from candidates, Singer, Zucaro and Cottrell. Isn’t one enough from each candidate? What a waste of money and resources. How does a person opt out from receiving this junk mail?

    • How do you stop it? How do you stop a thousand signs from being spread all around. How do you stop glossy print pieces from appearing in the dozens? There is a way. It’s cheap. It’s easy. You should do it. Sure they’re annoying and ugly up and down the roads. But what’s worse is that they’re using plastics, dyes, and paper. They consume fuel to deliver to you and put around. Those dyes, ones used in glossy print pieces, the ones that get your attention, are all chemicals. They take resources and create pollution to manufacture.

      So what can you do? It’s one click away.

      Share this post to your social media accounts. Use those little buttons installed above. Share it to Twitter. Share it to Facebook. Share it to Pinterest. Share it to LinkedIn. Every time you do that you make the print medium become less relevant. Every time you use digital media to communicate you can displace print. Did you know it costs $6k to send out one mailer for a Boca Election? Want to take the money out of the equation? Share. It’s that simple. The more we do it, the more we take money out of elections. You have the power right now.

  9. Jeremy’s having a bad week. Something’s bothering him?
    He’s been taunting and bullying almost everyone.
    I bet all will be quiet once again for Mr. Rodgers when Election Day results are in.
    In the meantime, perhaps it’s best that he doesn’t look at graphs, pie charts, and pictures of the various over-developments; as this seems to get him very upset. Better, to look at and appreciate all the negative Campaign literature mailed/paid for by either candidate singer or a PAC’s.

  10. Jason, I like your response to jmm about all the resources wasted on yard signs and mailers. The street corner at the downtown library looks like a dog’s breakfast. Who in their right mind truly believes voters are going to pick or reject a candidate based on a volume of yard signs and mailers? Maybe Bernard Korn was on to something at the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner Associations’ candidate forum when he pointed out that he only had one campaign sign and a T-shirt.

  11. Mr Graubart, every week in Boca is a great week. I really make every effort to not taunt or bully anyone. If it came across that way, I apologize. If you’re talking about me asking why residents are getting blocked from a public group run by editors of this site, or why residents messages get deleted .. that’s not bullying, that’s fighting bullying. Also recommend you re-read your own post, which is clearly taunting.

    • Jeremy – I agree – exclusion is a kind of bullying. So is telling everyone else how someone feels without their agreeing. A non-collaborative tone is unnecessary. Fighting it is fighting bullying. People might think you and I going back and forth is us “giving each other a hard time” but I see it as the exact opposite. Having thoughtful critique is more valuable than a thumb’s up. The question you asked above made the piece more complete and more excellent. It pointed us in more excellent directions. THIS ISN’T THE FIRST TIME JEREMY ROGER’S WISDOM HAD A GIANT IMPACT ON BOCAWATCH. I can’t say it loud enough. There are ripples you’ve created that have only begun to spread.

      Giving folks encouragement when you like what they’re doing is one thing – it’s no less caring, perhaps more needed, to give folks discouragement when they’re doing something you don’t like. Don’t like the colors, the logo, the layout, the mission – whatever? Tell us. Don’t be shy. Same goes for any comment – even the cranky ones – you wouldn’t be making a contribution if you didn’t feel an ability to have an impact. Just don’t expect us to agree. That’s what makes it fun. No bullying! Give a crank a hug!

  12. Jason, RE “special interest buckets”, there’s still no reason not to publish the full raw data to see how you are categorizing it. I know the category counts were way off on my contribution calculations, and it’s basically a number picked in the dark, has been called into question by multiple people, and readers are supposed to trust an author that isn’t even willing to put their own name to a claim like this?

    Also, where is the comparison of “non-special interest” head to head, in both dollars and individuals count? Wouldn’t Singer have over a 2:1 or 3:1 lead there vs Zucaro, by the AUG 10th reports? I know a lot of people tell me it seems BW starts with the headline (“Candidate ____ is not resident friendly”) and then twist and turn to find a way to try and paint a number that supports the needed narrative.

    • Sorry I took so long to reply. Those Treasurer reports in PDF form do not lend themselves to be copied and pasted from. They are more amenable to being printed and highlighted. It’s archaic. I apologize for not being able to put the time into a suitable table in the short term. BUT…..
      Moving forward we will make a better effort to publish the individual data points when we do summations. It’s not something most other publications do, so I guess when we don’t do it folks wonder where it is.

      As for the request to compare “non-special interest” that would be another awesome thing to include. If you can define with me a solid criteria that makes a supporter fall into that bucket then we’ll use it! Will it support candidates’ existing narratives or will it spin off new ones?


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