Small donors dominate Ben Carson, Donald Trump contributor lists

Ben Carson has raised 62.7 percent of his $31.3 million from small donors; Donald Trump has raised 72 percent of his $3.9 million from people giving $200 or less.
Ben Carson has raised 62.7 percent of his $31.3 million from small donors; Donald Trump has raised 72 percent of his $3.9 million from people giving $200 or less.

Small checks can add up to big bucks.

The two poll-topping candidates who’ll occupy center stage in  Wednesday night’s third Republican presidential debate — part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump and West Palm Beach resident Ben Carson — are also the candidates who have raised the largest share of their campaign cash from small donors.

Retired neurosurgeon Carson raised $31.3 million through Sept. 30 — with $19.6 million, or 63 percent, coming from people giving $200 or less.

Trump, despite his billionaire status and pledge to self-finance his campaign, has attracted $3.9 million in contributions, with $2.8 million of that — 72 percent — coming from people who gave $200 or less.

The contributions to Trump have been entirely unsolicited, his campaign says. First-time candidate Carson, however, has spent heavily on donor lists, direct mail appeals and phone solicitations to build his contributor base.

Of the $24.8 million Jeb Bush's campaign has raised, 5 percent has come from small donors.
Of the $24.8 million Jeb Bush’s campaign has raised, 5 percent has come from small donors.

By comparison, only 5 percent of the $24.8 million raised by Republican establishment favorite Jeb Bush has come from small contributors. And less than 1 percent of the $103 million raised by the Bush-backing Right To Rise super PAC through June 30 came from people who gave $200 or less.

The Federal Election Commission requires campaigns to list the name, address and occupation of people who give more than $200, whether it’s in a single check or multiple contributions. Money from people giving $200 or less can be lumped together as “unitemized” gifts on FEC reports.

Raising money in little pieces rather than fat checks can give populist credibility to a campaign. It also gives a candidate a list of supporters who can be hit up for more money before reaching the federal individual contribution limit of $2,700 for a primary and $2,700 for a general election.

Bernie Sanders has raised more than $30 million from people giving $200 or less.
Bernie Sanders has raised more than $30 million from people giving $200 or less.

Democrat Bernie Sanders has been the most prolific small-dollar candidate, raising $30.7 million — more than three-quarters of his contributions — in unitemized donations. Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton has raised $13.3 million from small donors, or 17 percent of her campaign’s $77 million haul. The pro-Clinton Priorities USA super PAC raised $15.7 million through June 30, with only $1,092 in unitemized gifts.

Small dollars aren’t necessarily cheap. Carson’s campaign incurred $11.2 million in fundraising costs last quarter to bring in $20.7 million – a burn rate that has raised some eyebrows.

“The fundraising is reflective of the campaign. The campaign is really a campaign of the people,” says Carson’s national finance chairman, Dean Parker, a former tech company CEO who has never worked on a political campaign before.

Parker said Carson had to spend heavily to raise money because he’s not a politician.

“We didn’t have a donor list when we started. We had to go and track donors. Every other campaign had donors,” said Parker, who expects Carson’s fundraising costs to go down.

Carson has placed second to Trump in most national GOP polls over the last two months, but he led Trump in a CBS News/New York Times survey released Tuesday. The poll showed Carson favored by 26 percent of Republican primary voters and Trump preferred by 22 percent.

“Carson’s gross (fundraising) numbers are impressive,” said Brian Ballard, a Tallahassee lobbyist who is a fundraiser for Bush. But Ballard also noted Carson’s high cost of attracting contributions. And he said big donors come in handy in the long haul.

“Having the institutional money matters in terms of being able to compete with Democrats,” Ballard said.

Trump, at a rally in Doral last week, mocked Bush’s fundraising.

“Jeb Bush has $125 million – honestly, I don’t think it’s going to help him,” Trump said while arguing that major contributors expect something in return from politicians.

“Hey look, I used to be one of those guys that gave a lot of money,” Trump said.

While decrying super PACs and challenging other candidates to disavow them, Trump boasted about the people giving small contributions to his campaign.

“People send in small donations. Like, small ones. A woman — $7.50 with about a four-page letter. Another woman $50, $30, $90…” Trump said.

“But that I love because, number one, you can’t send it back. How do you send a letter back to a woman who loves the country, who’s giving a lot of money – that’s like giving $1 million to a rich person. How do you send the $7.50 back? You can’t…There’s no letter you can write to that woman to say ‘We don’t want your money.’”

Map shrinking Palm Beach County’s Senate seats set for vote — but could be threatened by changes in Miami-Dade

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said changes he pushed help Hispanic voters -- not him
Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said changes he pushed help Hispanic voters — not him

Redrawn district boundaries that cost Palm Beach County a state Senate seat were positioned Tuesday for final approval, but changes made in Miami-Dade County could undermine the plan in courts.

The Senate advanced late-hour changes that rework three Hispanic majority districts – bolstering their already heavy minority populations while removing the risk that three incumbent senators could be forced to run for the same seat.

“I think we just made it unconstitutional with that last amendment,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. “You can’t draw a map with the intent to benefit an incumbent. Everyone knows that.”

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, pushed the Miami-Dade revisions, arguing that the plan narrowly approved last week by the Senate Redistricting Committee had fractured the county’s tradition of having three Hispanic-heavy seats anchored in Hialeah, Little Havana and West Kendall.

He insisted that the boundary-changes he proposed had nothing to do with his home being tucked into the same district as Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, under the earlier map.

The changes set for a vote Wednesday in the Senate separate Diaz de la Portilla from the other two lawmakers. But he said that was not what motivated him.

“The key here is we’ve got three Hispanic seats in Miami-Dade County for almost thirty years now,” Diaz de la Portilla said. “The map that was before us that needed to be amended did not do that.”

Those were the only changes made Tuesday in the plan, which moves Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, whose district currently includes the Jupiter-Tequesta area, out of Palm Beach County and into a district composed of Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties.

Negron is positioned to become Senate president following next year’s elections but his rival for the powerful post, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, has echoed some of the same concerns as Democrats about the proposed boundaries.

If the map is approved today by senators, it still must go next week to the House, which has been wary of proposals drawn by lawmakers — as opposed to legislative staff, who are considered more shielded from political influence.

Senate Redistricting Committee Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, defended Tuesday’s plan, saying it was largely staff-drawn, “but for the changes in Miami-Dade.”

“I feel we’re in a good position,” he said.

Under terms of a settlement between the Senate and a voters’ coalition, senators have admitted that current boundaries set in 2012 were drawn to help incumbents and the ruling Republican Party, in violation of voter-approved constitutional standards.

The plan making it out of the Legislature will first be reviewed by a trial court and later the Florida Supreme Court, according to the settlement.

In Palm Beach County, the map approved Friday pairs the homes of Sens. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, and Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, in the same south county district, which also reaches into Broward County.

Abruzzo, though, has said he plans to move residences – avoiding the possibility the two would have to challenge each other.

Clemens, the county’s third senator under the map before lawmakers, is in line to become Democratic Leader following the 2018 elections.

Like Clemens, Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami, warned that the Miami-Dade changes can be seen as helping incumbents and thus could undermine the latest attempt at map-making.

Two earlier attempts by the Legislature to draw congressional boundaries were ruled unconstitutional by courts and a third effort in August failed when the House feared the Senate was again attempting to protect incumbents.

“We’re heading down the same path,” Braynon warned.

 

Shock poll: West Palm Beacher Ben Carson edges Palm Beacher Donald Trump

West Palm Beach resident Ben Carson before the first GOP debate in Cleveland in August.
West Palm Beach resident Ben Carson before the first GOP debate in Cleveland in August.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson of West Palm Beach has moved ahead of part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump in a new CBS News/New York Times national poll of Republican primary voters.

Carson gets 26 percent and Trump 22 percent, with all other candidates in single digits. Sen. Marco Rubio is a distant third at 8 percent. The poll’s margin of error is 6 percent.

Only 28 percent of Republicans say their minds are made up for the presidential race, with 71 percent saying it’s too early to make a final decision on a candidate.

Trump, who made his first Florida campaign appearance Friday in Doral, has led every major national GOP poll for more than three months with the exception of one Investors Business Daily survey released Oct. 2 that showed Carson ahead.

Carson’s home in the Ibis development of West Palm Beach is about 20 miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.

Opponents look to put up another roadblock to casinos in Florida

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Gambling opponents are launching a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at making it tougher for casinos to open in Florida.

Voters in Charge has been formed to push for a ballot measure next year that would require any bid to legalize casino gambling in Florida be placed on a ballot for voters to decide.

“People will agree or disagree about casino gambling,’’ said John Sowinski, Chairman of Voters In Charge. “But regardless of your position, given the stakes involved and the money that the gambling industry puts into campaigns and lobbying, the people of Florida should have the final say on whether or not to legalize casino-style gambling.”

Sowinski for several years has led an Orlando-based organization called No Casinos, which is usually allied with Central Florida theme parks and the Florida Chamber of Commerce in opposing gambling efforts.

Although legal experts have long argued that voters must approve a constitutional change to allow casinos, opponents fear recent court rulings may have clouded that standard, giving strength to the idea that state lawmakers could clear the way for casinos.

Sowinski said Voters in Charge is beginning to collect petition signatures and anticipates having the required required 68,314 valid petitions to trigger a review by the Florida Supreme Court, by early 2016. Almost 700,000 signatures, and ballot-language approval by justices, are needed to secure a spot.

Sowinski said support for the amendment has been polling at 70 percent approval. At least 60 percent of voters would have to approve the measure for it to become law.

The campaign launch comes a day after the Seminole Tribe sued the state even as negotiations continue over a 2010 gambling compact up for renewal this year. Without a new deal, by the end of this month, a legal cloud could hang over whether the Tribe can continue offering banked card games at five of seven casinos, including one in Hollywood.

Meanwhile, Sheldon Adelson, who controls the Las Vegas Sands Corp., has apparently abandoned efforts to get a casino resort approved by lawmakers for Miami. Adelson, a top Republican donor heavily courted by the party’s presidential field, is now exploring the possibility of the Atlanta area as a casino resort location.

Voters rejected statewide casino-approval measures three times between 1978 and 1994, but approved a limited slots proposal for Miami-Dade and Broward County pari-mutuel facilities in 2004.

A recent poll by the University of South Florida-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey shows opposition to casinos softening, however, with two-thirds of Floridians supporting expansion and only 20 percent outright opposed. As recently as the 2012 election cycle, a Quinnipiac University poll put support for gambling at 48 percent and opposition at a more muscular 43 percent.

In the new poll, South Florida residents are slightly more likely than the state average (37% to 34%) to support Nevada-­style casinos. Opposition to any casino gambling at all increases with age, and is highest among couples (23%), those without internet access (32%) and residents of North Florida (32%), the survey found.

The telephone poll of 1,251 Floridians was conducted in late July and early August. It has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 2.77 percent.

 

 

Senate to begin debate on district boundaries

Florida senators are poised to debate election boundaries.
Florida senators are poised to debate election boundaries.

Florida senators today are slated to begin debate on new boundaries for their election districts — which in Palm Beach County will shrink the number of state senators from four to three.

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, would lose the sliver of north county that he currently holds and move into a Treasure Coast district under the plan advanced by Redistricting Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, a Negron ally in a leadership fight that is clouding the latest line-drawing.

Negron’s rival for the powerful post of Senate president next year, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, took the unusual step of testifying before Galvano’s committee last week, condemning the proposed boundaries as certain to be rejected by Florida’s courts, which are overseeing the Legislature’s redistricting attempts.

Lawmakers are in a three-week special session — scheduled to continue until Nov. 6 — to redraw 2012 Senate boundaries under a legal settlement with the Florida League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other groups.

A final Senate vote may not come until Wednesday. And the House isn’t scheduled to take up the revamped Senate boundaries until next week.

 

Senator hopes bill will prompt talk of minimum age for boating in Florida

Perry Cohen (left) and Austin Stephanos, disappeared after sailing out of Jupiter Inlet
Perry Cohen (left) and Austin Stephanos, disappeared after sailing out of Jupiter Inlet

A Broward County senator filed legislation Monday that raises the age limit for operating personal watercraft — but that may be just a first step.

Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, proposed a measure (SB 644) that he said was inspired by several South Florida boating tragedies last summer –including the disappearance of two Tequesta 14-year-olds, 

Their capsized boat was found days later near Daytona Beach.

Florida law sets no age requirement for boaters. State law mandates only that anyone born after Jan. 1, 1988 piloting a vessel of more than 10 horsepower complete an approved safety boating course.

A person must be at least 14 to operate a personal watercraft, such as a jet ski, in Florida. But Ring’s bill would raise that limit to age 16, although his staff said he wants the measure to spark discussion of setting the same age standard for all boaters.

Florida’s bear hunt ends quickly — but deadly

Florida's bear hunt ended quickly, and deadly.
Florida’s bear hunt ended quickly, and deadly.

State wildlife officials said Monday they learned some lessons about managing Florida’ black bear population following the shortened end of a planned weeklong hunting season.

The state’s first bear hunt in 21 years was ended after only two days Sunday night, after 295 bears were killed — 25 short of the quota set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Diane Eggeman, commission director of hunting and game management, said the truncated hunt will give officials some guidance on what steps are needed to manage a bear population of about 3,000 that has had more frequent run-ins with humans in recent years.

For the hunt, 3,778 permits had been issued, costing $100 for Florida residents and $300 for out-of-staters. Most of the bears killed were in the Florida Panhandle and Central Florida, although hunting permits was authorized across South Florida, including Palm Beach County.

Crist with first web ad promises “joyful experience” in congressional bid

Crist posts first web ad in race for Congress
Crist posts first web ad in race for Congress

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, who last week announced his candidacy for a congressional seat in his St. Petersburg hometown, posted his first, web-based campaign ad Monday.

The former Republican governor, turned independent U.S. Senate candidate, turned Democratic gubernatorial contender, promises in the spot that his latest race — yes, as a Democrat — will be a “joyful experience.

Crist also underscores his familiar populist theme, saying “I have always tried to listen to the people. Even when it’s hard.”

Here’s the ad:  http://bit.ly/1Mf2U8E

Photos: Nine Donald Trump fans who are going all-in

Billionaire businessman-turned-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has seen a surge in popularity since announcing his run for the White House.

One thing you can say for him: His supporters are devoted. And thanks to the photographers following Trump along the campaign trail, we’re able to get a look at how his fans have come up with unique ways to show their love.

Here are nine fans who are all-in for The Donald:

1) This cowboy

RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 14: Reb Worsham of Benson, NC, wait near the head of the line of people waiting to get into a rally with Republican presidential candidate and front-runner Donald Trump at the Richmond International Raceway October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. A New York real estate mogul and reality television star, Trump is now in a statistical tie with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a Fox News survey of likely Republican voters released Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Reb Worsham of Benson, North Carolina, waited near the head of the line of people to get into a rally with Trump at the Richmond International Raceway on Oct. 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

2) This excited woman who declared, “I am Hispanic and I vote for Mr. Trump!”

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 08: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump invites Myriam Witcher 35 on the stage during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on October 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)
Trump invited Myriam Witcher, 35, on the stage during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on Oct. 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She made headlines with her declaration of support for Trump. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)

3. This woman who went cheek-to-cheek for a selfie

DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets had been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
A Trump supporter snaps a selfie with the candidate during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on Sept. 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

4. This man who went old-school with a Trump boardgame

RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 14: Supporters, including a man with a Trump board game, wait for presidential candidate and Republican front-runner Donald Trump at a campaign rally at the Richmond International Raceway October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. A New York real estate mogul and reality television star, Trump is now in a statistical tie with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a Fox News survey of likely Republican voters released Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A man with a Trump board game waits for Trump at a campaign rally at the Richmond International Raceway on Oct. 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

5. This youngster whose stealth selfie game is on point

EDISON, NJ - AUGUST 30: Golf fans takes a "selfie" with presidential candidate Donald Trump during the final round of The Barclays at Plainfield Country Club on August 30, 2015 in Edison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
A young fan takes a selfie with Trump during the final round of The Barclays at Plainfield Country Club on Aug. 30, 2015 in Edison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

6. This woman who is overjoyed to have Trump meet her baby

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters after his rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on August 21, 2015 in Mobile, Alabama. The Trump campaign moved tonight's rally to a larger stadium to accommodate demand. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Trump greets a supporter and her baby after his rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Aug. 21, 2015 in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

7. This man who brought some soul to one Trump event

Donald Trump supporter Dale Raines plays soprano saxophone at the Trump National Doral Miami resort, as supporters wait for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Donald Trump supporter Dale Raines plays soprano saxophone at the Trump National Doral Miami resort, as supporters wait for Republican presidential candidate Trump on Oct. 23, 2015 in Doral. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

8. This young man who was overcome at a Trump rally

Supporters cheer for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Tyngsborough, Mass., Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Supporters cheer for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, on Oct. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

9. This woman who would stop at nothing to reach Trump

RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 14: Supporters strain to touch presidential candidate and Republican front-runner Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Richmond International Raceway October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. A New York real estate mogul and reality television star, Trump is now in a statistical tie with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a Fox News survey of likely Republican voters released Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A supporter strains to touch Trump during a campaign rally at the Richmond International Raceway Oct. 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

More Donald Trump coverage

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• Can Trump win GOP? Florida elite say no but doubt creeping in
Photos: Donald Trump through the years
Trump rouses sleeping giant in Hispanic business community
Trump can’t dump lawsuit over Jupiter golf club

Seminoles sue state as gambling deadline looms

Seminole Tribe sues state as deadline looms.
Seminole Tribe sues state as deadline looms.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida sued the state Monday in what appears a defensive move ahead of a looming legal deadline that could shut down table games at five of its seven facilities, including Hollywood’s Hard Rock Casino.

In 2010, the state and Seminole Tribe entered into a 20-year compact under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The agreement gave the tribe exclusive rights to operate banked card games but unless the agreement was renewed, the Seminoles would have to discontinue the banked games.

An Oct. 29 deadline now looms, although the state hasn’t indicated it is eager to force any kind of shutdown.

The tribe has said it plans to continue the games. But Chief James Billie also sounded an optimistic note Monday, saying that negotiations with the state over a new deal are looking good.

In a statement, attributed to Billie, he said, there was “significant progress in the Tribe’s negotiations with the Governor and leaders of the Florida Legislature relative to finalizing a new Compact agreement, and the Tribe remains hopeful that a positive outcome will result.”

But the tribe pointed out, it “has no option but to file in order to protect its interests and those of the 3,100 employees and their families whose jobs are in jeopardy.”

In exchange for five years of exclusivity, the Seminoles pledged to pay Florida a minimum of $1 billion over the same time period, an amount the tribe has exceeded.

The tribe has said it would continue to send its payments to the state even if it continues games past the Oct. 29 deadline.