Monday, August 13, 2012

Who's paying for the anti-McClash fliers in your mailbox?

Manatee County Commission candidate Betsy Benac is one of the best-funded candidates in Tuesday's primary election, raising more than $94,000 in contributions, as of Aug. 9, according to the Manatee elections office. That's more than five times as much as the man she is trying to unseat, Joe McClash.

Benac also has been the beneficiary of independent expenditures from a developer-funded "electioneering communications organization" called Take Back Our Government, which has peppered local mailboxes and telephones with an anti-McClash campaign targeting the long-time commissioner because of editorial positions taken by his online newspaper, his opposition to certain development projects, and endorsements he has received from groups like the Sierra Club.

As the Bradenton Herald previously reported, the Sarasota-based Take Back Our Government is headed by former Sarasota Republican Party chairman Robert Waechter, who now is a member of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority.

Funded almost entirely by development-related companies, Take Back Our Government as of Aug. 9 had spent almost $58,000 this election cycle on "electioneering communications," according to the Florida Division of Elections. The records don't specify where the money has been spent, but anyone who has taken a look at the fine print on the fliers that have flooded some Manatee mailboxes in recent days and weeks can testify, much of the group's efforts have been spent on targeting McClash.

(Of Take Back Our Government's expenditures, more than $54,100 has gone to Political Ink Inc., a Washington-based firm specializing in direct-mail campaigns.)

Where is the money coming from?

According to the Division of Elections, Take Back Our Government had collected  more than $65,000 in contributions, as of Aug. 9.

Of that, almost half, or $32,000, had come from Florida West Coast Holdings LLC, which shares a Bradenton address with Medallion Home, which is headed by developer Carlos Beruff -- who sits on the airport board with Waechter.

Another $27,000 came from Committee to Protect Florida's Seniors, another "electioneering communications organization" based in Venice and headed by Eric Robinson, another former chairman of the Sarasota GOP.

Take another step back, and its filings with the Division of Elections show that Committee to Protect Florida's Seniors has received $54,500 in contributions this elections cycle: $27,500 from Mosaic Fertilizer Inc.; $25,000 from Florida West Coast Holdings and Cargor Partners III Parrish, which shares the same Bradenton address as other Beruff-led firms; and $2,000 from Wilmington Land Company, which shares a Lakewood Ranch address with Neal Communities, one of the largest developers in the county.

Of the $27,312.45 spent by Committee to Protect Florida's Seniors, all but $312.45 has gone to Take Back Our Government.


  1. Follow the money folks these people are investors and they expect a return on their investment their buying themselves a seat on the county commsion

  2. The robocalls are even more disgusting than the flyers. I got one yesterday claiming that McClash is not a true Republican because he got an environmental group endorsement. The caller might be surprised to learn that we Republicans care about the environment too.

  3. The poor developers only get 90% of what they want. Now we hear them screaming that McClash is "liberal" and "anti-business" --all so they can buy that last 10% of control. It's disgusting. Ever notice that none of the Benac signs are in anyone's lawn--just commercial properties?

  4. Who wants our local government taken over by a few billionaires? I sure don’t want an elected official who is owned by money interest. How can the rest of us expect honest representation if the deck is stacked against us?
    I want a fair and impartial representative on the commission who will vote on what is best for the entire community not just what is best for their campaign contributors. I have never seen an election in local government in which an obvious few billionaires are attempting to buy the election.
    I don’t always agree with Commissioner McClash but it appears that he is always considering what is best for the community.

  5. Waechter and Beruff should be more concerned of losing airlines from SRQ then who will win the race between McClash and what's her name.

    Are these to j*rks behind building up longboat key club.

    Time that these two men be replaced. New board members needed on the SRQ Board.

    Governor Scott, time to do a replacement on these two. Governor Scott Do you really accept the garbage that these two men are doing to a Republican Candidates while being on the board with a defunct airport. It is shameful and embarrassing. Please give it a huge consideration of replacing them. Horrible and pitiful.

  6. She will never get my vote.

  7. I've been a registered voter in Manatee County for over 30 years and have NEVER seen such mean-spirited hate mail focused against a candidate. Mrs Benac may be an honorable person but we'll never know because she has chosen to aline herself with these spiteful allies. Their negative tactics are going to fail and Joe McClash will be reelected. Watch

    1. a honorable person wouldn't allow it in their name . shes just going to be puppet taking direction from those who bought her the seat

  8. Looking at her campaign funding reports, we find not only lots of development related donations, but also those from public officials Julie Aranibar, Larry Bustle and John Chappie. I guess they want to see a developer takeover of the commission as well.

  9. Larry Bustle and John Chappie and Whitmore want to get rid of McClash because they never win a debate wiht him and they want someone they and the developers can control.

  10. I and my family all voted absentee ballots for Joe, Good luck Commissioner McClash.

  11. Development-related companies have been doing this type of donations for many many years in manatee county,nothing new.

  12. Joe McClash Is the MAN... and for that he receives my vote!

  13. Joe McClash is a stand up guy and always has been. Betsy Benac should be ashamed of herself.

  14. Maybe we need a write in Campaign fo Joe? Will you work to support it?

  15. Omg, we are loosing Joe McClash? And getting Betsy...."I can't build it fast enough".....Benac? She was a failed urban planner who couldn't write a decent proposal or plan if she had crib notes. That's it......I'm moving!!!!!!
    Good luck Manatee County. I didn't think Is see you sell out to the highest bidder.

    Shame shame !!!!!