Nikki Fried

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions passed through a maze of shadowy Broward political committees before ending up in the Nikki Fried campaign and a related political committee, records show. In her first campaign treasurer’s report for her gubernatorial bid, Nikki Fried collected $40,000 from this maze of Fort Lauderdale political committees. While this amount reflects just ten percent of her contributions, the maze made its biggest contributions to Fried’s political committee.

In 2018, Nikki Fried opened the “Florida Consumers First” political committee. Fried leveraged her position as the State’s top elected Democrat to raise money for her party and candidates. In September 2020 Fried told donors, “If we want a government that offers transparency and leadership, we need to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. That’s why every dollar you donate to me this month goes to support Democratic candidates in the coming election.” One month later, Florida Consumers First paid a $1,600 fine to the State of Florida for failing to report its fundraising activities.

According to its June 2021 campaign treasurer’s report, nearly half the money raised by Fried’s Florida Consumers First political committee came from a network of PACs located in Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee and Tampa.

In June, five committees using the same Fort Lauderdale post office box made contributions to Florida Consumers First. Putting Community First made a $1,000 contribution to Florida Consumers First. Comite Politico made a $16,750 contribution to Florida Consumers First and a $3,000 contribution to the Nikki Fried campaign. Democratic Services Network made a $25,000 contribution to Florida Consumers First and a $3,000 contribution to the Nikki Fried campaign. Mothers Stand Together PC made a $20,000 contribution to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to the Nikki Fried campaign. Winning Florida gave an $11,000 contribution to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to the Nikki Fried campaign.

State records show these political committees were formed by Haber Blank, a Fort Lauderdale law firm.

Five Tampa-based political committees made contributions to Florida Consumers First in June.

The Alliance for Florida Seniors gave $7,750 to Florida Consumers First. Democratic Action Network gave $22,500 to Florida Consumers First. Equal Rights Action Fund gave 15,500 to Florida Consumers First. Tampa Action Fund gave $19,500 to Florida Consumers First and Urban Action Fund gave $15,500 to Florida Consumers First. All five committees gave $3,000 each to the Nikki Fried campaign.

Fighting For Florida Jobs, a Tallahassee-based committee, gave $13,500 to Florida Consumers First. This committee gave $3,000 to the Nikki Fried campaign.

In June, Florida Consumers First reported $15,000 in contributions from the Public Service committee. As REDBROWARD previously reported, Public Service is a political committee controlled by Evan Ross of Hallandale Beach infamy.

While contributions from fifteen political committees in a month may be commonplace in modern elections, a review of campaign reports shows these political committees repeatedly shifting money amongst themselves before the funds end up with the Nikki Fried political committee.

THE MAZE

A review of 2021 campaign reports show the various committees made contributions to related committees before those committees made donations to Nikki Fried and Florida Consumers First. Often, a political committee will receive a contribution from a related committee then immediately make a contribution to another related political committee. This process makes it very difficult to pinpoint the original source of the money.

In June 2021, the Fort Lauderdale-based Mothers Standing Together PC received contributions from four political committees. It received $7,500 from Business of Florida and $3,500 from Our Future Now. Both entities use the same North Franklin Street address in Tampa. But the real money came in from Tallahassee.

Mothers Standing Together received $70,000 from Floridians For Economic Advancement on North Monroe Street In Tallahassee. It received $30,000 from Fighting For Florida Jobs of Tallahassee. This is the same political committee which gave $13,500 directly to Florida Consumers First.

After receiving these large contributions, Mothers Standing Together PC gave $1,000 to the Miami First committee, $15,000 to Winning Florida and $20,000 to Democratic Services Network.

Two days after receiving these contributions, Winning Florida and Democratic Services Network made contributions to Florida Consumers First and Nikki Fried. Winning Florida gave $11,000 to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to Fried. Democratic Services Network gave $25,000 to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to the Fried campaign.

Mothers Standing Together, Winning Florida and Democratic Services Network were created by the same Fort Lauderdale law firm.

In addition to its contribution to Mothers Standing Together, the Business of Florida gave $12,472 to Fighting For Florida Jobs of Tallahassee. Its Tampa twin, Our Future Now gave contributions to Florida Consumers First, Mothers Standing Together and another Tampa political committee called Downtown Development Alliance.

On June 29, 2021 Downtown Development Alliance picked up a $2,700.74 contribution from Our Future Now. That same day, Downtown Development Alliance received a $17,500 contribution from Mothers Standing Together, $15,000 from Democratic Action Network and $7,500 from Alliance Of Florida Seniors.

One day later, Downtown Development Alliance gave $8,000 to Equal Rights Action Fund, $16,500 to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to the Nikki Fried campaign.

In June, the Democratic Action Network received contributions from three political committees. It received $80,000 from Floridians For Economic Advancement, $12,500 from Comite Politico and $2,000 from Urban Action Fund.

Just two days earlier, Democratic Action Network made a $20,000 contribution to Urban Action Fund. In addition to the $15,000 to the Downtown Development Alliance, Democratic Action Network gave $20,000 to Fighting For Florida Jobs, $7,500 to Democratic Services Network and $12,500 to the Alliance For Florida Seniors.

On June 30, 2021, Democratic Action Network gave $22,500 to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to the Nikki Fried campaign.

Throughout the first half of 2021, Florida Consumers First picked up big contributions from the Fort Lauderdale political committees. This includes $138,500 from Equal Justice PC, $20,000 from Voters For Truth, $53,000 from Actions Matter, $8,000 from Empower Florida, $10,000 from Floridians For Veterans Service, $6,500 from Putting Voters First and $16,000 from the South Florida Accountability Project.

Confused yet?

Sadly, that may be the point. And this is just a sample of the contributions and expenditures making its way to Florida Consumers First and the Fried campaign.

Why would these distinct committees share contributions amongst themselves?

Is someone coordinating this process?

Surely, Florida voters deserve straight talk and transparency from its Commissioner of Agriculture, right Ms. Fried?

Published by Tom Lauder

Covering South Florida Politics Since 2010...As Seen On: POLITICO, The Huffington Post, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald, WPLG LOCAL 10 (ABC MIAMI), The New Times

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