Rick Scott for governor of Florida catches on with out-of-state donors

Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott speaks to members and guests of the Lee Republican Women Federated Luncheon on Monday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fort Myers. Lexey Swall/Staff

Photo by LEXEY SWALL

Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott speaks to members and guests of the Lee Republican Women Federated Luncheon on Monday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fort Myers. Lexey Swall/Staff

In this June 17, 2010, file photo, Florida republican gubernatorial hopeful Bill McCollum speaks during the Florida Press Association and FSNE annual meeting in Sarasota, Fla. The dirt is flying in the Florida race for governor. In response to an ad by newcomer challenger Rick Scott McCollum critizes him for the record settlement Scott's former hospital company paid to settle Medicare fraud charges.'

In this June 17, 2010, file photo, Florida republican gubernatorial hopeful Bill McCollum speaks during the Florida Press Association and FSNE annual meeting in Sarasota, Fla. The dirt is flying in the Florida race for governor. In response to an ad by newcomer challenger Rick Scott McCollum critizes him for the record settlement Scott's former hospital company paid to settle Medicare fraud charges."

The Naples businessman had raised $430,000 in donations as of a week ago. He also made $22.9 million in personal loans to his campaign in the three-month period covered by the report. A rough analysis of Scott’s donor list showed that roughly 30 percent of his donors are from outside of Florida. Compare that to the roughly 10 percent represented by out-of-state donors on opponent Bill McCollum’s donor list.

— The fact that the bulk of Rick Scott’s campaign financing has come from his own coffers might nearly overshadow the 1,400 other sources of donations to the Republican gubernatorial candidate’s campaign.

Nearly.

Scott is in the middle of his first-ever political campaign and the release a week ago of his campaign finance documents gives Florida residents a first-ever glimpse at who is helping pay for his campaign.

The Naples businessman had raised $430,000 in donations as of a week ago. He also made $23.9 million in personal loans to his campaign in the three-month period covered by the report.

In some ways, the list of contributions to Scott’s campaign reads like a Who’s Who of hospital CEOs and physicians — no surprise since Scott worked at the top of the health-care industry himself.

“It’s connections, people that understand your issues, it’s networks you build up over time,” said Susan MacManus, professor of public policy and political science at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “That’s just a natural outgrowth of politics.”

Those health-care industry contributions, from donors such as the Jacksonville Beach Surgery Center, came to Scott in the reporting period both from in- and out-of-state.

Scott received $500 donations _ in Florida the maximum legal contribution from an individual donor _ from health-care companies and CEOs in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California and Colorado, to name a few states.

But the out-of-state donations aren’t limited to health-care connections.

A rough analysis of Scott’s donor list showed that roughly 30 percent of his donors are from outside of Florida. Compare that to the roughly 10 percent represented by out-of-state donors on opponent Bill McCollum’s donor list.

Scott recorded $500 contributions from out-of-state donors such as the Platte City Cash Saver, a supermarket in Platte City, Mo.; Paul Twohig, the Hilton Head Island, S.C., brand operating officer of Dunkin Donuts; David Moyne, the Tiburon, Calif., senior vice president of Merrill Lynch; and Mike Curb, a Nashville, Tenn., record producer with ties to NASCAR.

“I guess you would expect McCollum to have a higher amount of in-state money because he’s been in the state for a while,” said Joe Uscinski, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Miami.

Plus, Uscinski said, 30 percent of donors coming from out-of-state is not all that remarkable.

He pointed to the roughly $6 million in out-of-state union money funneled into Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s unsuccessful campaign to oust U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln from her seat in the Arkansas Democratic primary.

“I guess you would expect McCollum to have a higher amount of in-state money because he’s been in the state for a while,” said Joe Uscinski, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Miami.

“Obviously, Scott has caught a lot of conservatives’ attention,” said Susan MacManus, professor of public policy and political science at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “I’m sure he’s got a sizeable portion of the (out-of-state) donations. I would say fiscal conservatives in general from outside the state are interested in his campaign.”

“They see an opportunity on the horizon,” said Peter Bergerson, a political science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero. “They see Florida as the potential future, and so part of any business is not only to manage and be efficient with the status quo, but they’re always looking for new markets.”

The Florida gubernatorial race is attracting a lot of interest nationally, MacManus said.

“Obviously, Scott has caught a lot of conservatives’ attention,” she said. “I’m sure he’s got a sizeable portion of the (out-of-state) donations. I would say fiscal conservatives in general from outside the state are interested in his campaign.”

When asked whether this out-of-state assistance is common in governor’s races, MacManus said Florida falls into a specific category.

“In big, competitive, purple states, yes,” she said. “In small, homogenous states like North Dakota, no.”

Even for donors living outside Florida, it is still common to have business interests in the state, as well as an interest in starting future ventures here, said Peter Bergerson, a political science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero.

“They see an opportunity on the horizon,” he said. “They see Florida as the potential future, and so part of any business is not only to manage and be efficient with the status quo, but they’re always looking for new markets.”

That is the case with at least one donor sending money to Scott from out of state.

Dan Adkins is vice president of Hartman & Tyner Inc., an apartment management company with offices in Fort Lauderdale, but with significant interests in Michigan.

Through 10 different apartment complexes in Michigan, all of which are registered as separate corporations, Adkins’s company directed 10 different $500 donations to the Scott campaign. Race tracks and concession companies associated with Hartman & Tyner in both West Virginia and Michigan also made $500 contributions to the Scott campaign, as well as Hartman & Tyner’s Fort Lauderdale office.

Because each of those companies is registered as an individual corporation, they aren’t collectively subject to the donation cap, but can each contribute the maximum $500.

Adkins, known for his ownership of Mardi Gras Gaming Casino and Racetrack in Miami, said his company is hoping to break into more business in this state.

“We’re actually very interested in the multifamily (apartment leasing) market in Florida,” he said. “We’re interested in investing in the state.”

Elections 2010 Page:

Scott’s campaign isn’t the only one supported by Adkins’ business partners, though. In October 2009, another series of apartment complexes in Michigan, also run by Hartman & Tyner, each made $500 contributions to McCollum’s campaign. So did the race tracks and concession companies.

Bergerson said that type of behavior isn’t unique.

“It’s an indication that people are taking a second look, first of all,” Bergerson said. “It’s an indication that people are hedging their bets. They see the tide turning _ they see the political landscape being reshaped because of the nature of the campaign commercials.”

And sometimes, the answer is pretty simple, both Bergerson and MacManus said. Contributing to a campaign buys a donor a form of advertising.

“It underscores the idea that some people contribute money for access,” MacManus said. “Not necessarily quid pro quo, because that’s illegal — but access.”

MORE DAILY NEWS COVERAGE ON RICK SCOTT

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Finance report: Scott loaned his campaign $22.9M and has spent nearly as much

Click here for related story: For the record, do Rick Scott and Bill McCollum vote themselves?

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Click here for Daily News' initial report on Rick Scott's campaign for governor, HCA and his background

Click here for a Q&A with the Daily News and Rick Scott

__ Connect with reporter Leslie Williams Hale at naplesnews.com/staff/leslie_hale

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Comments » 1

milo writes:

JUST IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITES......RICK SCOTT AS GOVERNOR, AND THE WHOLE TREASURY OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA AT HIS DISPOSAL. HE CAN ALWAYS CALL ON W OR CHENEY FOR ADVICE ON HOW TO LOOT IT

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