TALLAHASSEE - Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist reported his campaign for governor raised $3.8-million in the quarter ending June 30 in what is shaping up as easily the most expensive race in state history.
Crist benefited from a fundraiser hosted by billionaire developer Donald Trump in New York City last month, as well as a May fundraiser in Tampa that netted $1.1-million. No figures were available Wednesday on the New York effort, Crist campaign officials said.
His primary rival in the Republican contest, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, reported last week he had raised $3-million. The two energetic fundraisers have 14 more months to add to their war chests going into the Sept. 5, 2006 primary showdown.
Gallagher's campaign wasn't surprised at his rival's fundraising success.
"Charlie Crist is a formidable fundraiser," Gallagher campaign manager Brett Doster said. "We expect both sides will be in this race for 14 months. The reality is we're glad that we had a much better fundraising performance than the Democrats combined."
On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis' campaign on Tuesday reported raising $390,000 in the last quarter and more than $800,000 since he began his quest for the gubernatorial nomination in February. State Sen. Rod Smith of Alachua raised $397,000 in the first quarter but hasn't filed his second quarter report, due this coming Monday. Former state Democratic Party chairman Scott Maddox entered the race in May, but has not reported his fundraising total for the quarter.
Mark Kaplan to become Bush's new chief of staff
TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Jeb Bush named attorney Mark Kaplan as his new chief of staff Wednesday, effective Saturday.
Kaplan, 37, has been serving in a similar role for Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings.
Kaplan has also served as executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corp., personnel director for Bush's 2002-03 transition office and special counsel to the Florida House of Representatives.
He was Florida State University's top law graduate in 1992.
Kaplan becomes the fourth chief of staff for the second-term Republican governor, replacing Denver Stutler, who will be the state's transportation secretary.
Everglades holdout claims his $4.18-million check
NAPLES - A man who fought for years to keep his home in the rural Everglades reluctantly picked up his settlement check, saying a state project to restore natural water flow to the former wetlands did not need to go through his home.
Jesse Hardy received a $4.18-million check at the Collier County Courthouse last week.
He said he doesn't know where he will go after his Dec. 1 deadline to move. "I'm just trying to enjoy every minute I can of what I have left out there," he said.
In April, Hardy reached a $4.95-million settlement with the state. About $770,000 was withheld to resolve pending mortgage and mining claims to Hardy's property.
State officials went to court to take the land using eminent domain, saying the 160-acre property sits in the path of an $8.4-billion Everglades restoration. The 69-year-old former Navy SEAL lives in a clapboard home he built on property with no electricity or infrastructure.
Hardy said he hasn't found other land he wanted in the county for less than $800,000. He paid $60,000 for his land in 1976.
He had rejected repeated offers to sell, saying he wanted to hold onto a rural lifestyle and pass it on to the 9-year-old boy he has raised on the land with the boy's mother.
$43,000 in quarters stolen at Cape Coral toll bridge
CAPE CORAL - More than $43,000 in quarters was stolen from a toll bridge over a four-month period, officials said.
An audit confirmed a shortage in vault deposits for the automatic coin machines on the Cape Coral Bridge between October and mid February, Lee County Clerk of Courts Charlie Green said.
The audit also found several security issues. About three hours of footage from a security camera in the vault room at the facility were missing, and rooms where coins were counted were left unattended or with their doors propped open for long periods.
"Due to the violation of controls and lack of accountability at the toll facility, we were unable to identify the responsible person," Chuck Short, director of the Lee County Internal Audit Department, wrote in his report.