This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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When will the residents of Boca Raton once again achieve a majority representation on the City Council?
That rhetorical question may never find an answer if special interest dollars take control of this year’s election and future elections. Make no mistake, this year the special interests are threatened like never before. That threat is due to the recent election victories of resident supported candidates Andrea Levine O’Rourke and Monica Mayotte. One more like-minded victory and the residents will once again have their majority.
You literally have to go back to the prior century to find a Boca Raton City Council that favored the interests of residents versus special interests. Since then, the development that has taken place in our once well-planned city has been designed to build strictly for profit, not for people. A disappointment, indeed.
Some Early Observations
With so much at stake financially, special interests will pour money into this year’s campaigns. Prominent in that approach is the tactic of “bundling” funds from one source.
In the 2017 election, then candidate/Council member Scott Singer and then Mayor Susan Haynie both received multiple “bundled” thousands in contributions from developer and legal entities. Not too coincidentally, Haynie and Singer both recorded 49% of their total contributions from developer and legal entities in the 2017 race.
It is interesting to note that one restaurateur, in particular, has also lined up in-kind and cash donations behind the developer friendly candidates. The Ouzo Bay restaurant, located in Mizner Park, contributed “bundled” dollars to 2017 candidates Singer, Haynie and, earlier this year, to candidate Armand Grossman.
The 2018 campaign appears to be more of the same for Mr. Singer.
Based on campaign finance reports filed through the month of April, Mr. Singer’s combined developer and legal contributions total approximately 51% of the overall amount received. In addition, Ouzo Bay provided thus far bundled in-kind and cash contributions of $3,600 for Mr. Singer’s campaign kick-off. The amounts shown on the April report were prior to Singer having a legitimate opponent, BocaWatch publisher Alfred ‘Al’ Zucaro. It will be of significant interest and importance to observe how funding dollars will flow to the Mayoral candidates in the upcoming campaign financial filings.
In spite of Mr. Singer’s recent attempt to deflect his alignment with developer interests onto Mr. Zucaro, Mr. Singer’s campaign reports clearly shows solid developer support in the tens of thousands of dollars. Follow the money!!!
Council Seat A and “Dark Money”
Candidates for Council Seat A will also be filing their first campaign report on June 10th .
Due to the April arrest of Mayor Haynie, all Seat A candidates have gotten a late start to their campaign. So, once again it will be interesting to see where the developer/legal money will flow. But some clues as to who will be the “favored one” by developers have already emerged.
Repeat Council candidate Andy Thomson, formerly backed by commercial landowners and developers, has announced his plans for a kick-off party at, you guessed it, Ouzo Bay. His campaign reports, like other candidates, should reveal much; or, maybe not, based on Thomson’s choice for a campaign consultant.
One of the most impactful methods of influencing an election outcome through campaign funding resides in somewhat of a shell game. Mr. Thomson has hired the same campaign consultant hired by the now suspended Mayor, Susan Haynie; Cornerstone Solutions Florida, LLC. This company is led by consultant Rick Asnani, who coincidentally is the subject of three Florida Election Commission Complaints reported in an article in the Palm Beach Post.
This type of campaign financing influence makes “bundling” appear minor in scope. Literally, hundreds of thousands of dollars could be raised without the knowledge of where those funds came from. If, in fact, the tactic described in the above attachment is used in this election by Mr. Asnani, and related sources backing Thomson, the citizens of Boca Raton may never know the extent to which development dollars are impacting, and possibly stealing, our election.
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BocaWatch Editorial Team