Florida taxpayers paid $4.84 million so far in public financing for 2018 political candidates


Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis drew the largest amount of public matching funds last week, as the overall total going to statewide candidates before Tuesday’s primary elections neared $5 million.

DeSantis and three other gubernatorial candidates —- Republican Adam Putnam and Democrats Andrew Gillum and Gwen Graham —- have combined to receive nearly $3.73 million in public funding since late July.

Statewide candidates need to voluntary apply for matching funds, with several declining to do so. Under the program, the state matches contributions of $250 or less from individual donors.

Overall, the state has handed out $4.84 million so far for the 2018 elections. For the 2014 primary and general elections, Florida sent out $4.3 million to candidates using the program. In 2010, 10 candidates received $6.1 million from the program.

The program has long faced criticism, including from a couple of candidates in this year’s elections who call the distributions a waste of taxpayer dollars.

On Friday, the Florida Division of Elections sent $144,209 to six of the eight candidates who have qualified for matching funds, though the amounts last week were relatively small compared to earlier checks.

DeSantis, a Northeast Florida congressman, received $55,110, which raised his matching-fund total to $975,836.

Putnam, the state’s two-term agriculture commissioner who is going up against DeSantis in the Republican primary, didn’t receive any money last week. Putnam has drawn about $1.04 million from the program.

Graham, a former congresswoman who received a $33,922 check from the state on Friday, has received more than $1.2 million through the program.

Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, got a check for $29,377 on Friday and has received $495,065 from the state.

In the race for attorney general, Democrat Sean Shaw, a state House member from Tampa, picked up a check for $8,818 from the state on Friday. Shaw has drawn $205,276 in matching funds.

A Leon County circuit judge Friday issued a ruling to decertify Democrat Ryan Torrens from the race for attorney general because of a qualifying-related issue. Torrens, who is appealing the ruling, did not draw any state matching funds Friday but has received $88,693 from the program.

On the Republican side of the race for attorney general, former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody picked up $9,287 on Friday and has received $344,600 from the program.

State Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican who is the only candidate for agriculture commissioner involved in the program, picked up $6,565 on Friday and has received $264,885 from the state.

Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who doesn’t have a primary opponent and will face Democrat Jeremy Ring in the November general election, received $1,130 in matching funds Friday. Patronis has received $297,095 from the state.

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