Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene has pumped $22.45 million of his own cash into his gubernatorial campaign account, but recent filings with the Florida Division of Elections show he may start piling money into a political committee.
On July 31, Greene filed a “statement of solicitation” to use money raised by the Florida Defense Fund — currently nothing — to back his bid to be Governor.
Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida first reported news of Greene’s political committee.
Every other candidate running for Governor has an affiliated political committee, and for most, it’s the source of most of their capital. Political committees don’t impose contribution limits on donors like official campaign accounts, which in the case of statewide races limit donors to a maximum aggregate contribution of $3,000 for each election.
Thus far, all the cash Greene has put into his campaign has gone to his campaign account, and for good reason. Starting July 14, 45 days out from the primary election, all statewide candidates were eligible for “lowest unit rate” pricing on TV and radio advertising.
The catch? The money had to come from a campaign account, not a political committee. That’s not to say political committee dollars are useless; they can still cover things like media production costs, direct mail campaigns or, in the case of many candidates, cut massive checks to the state party, which will, in turn, provide the campaign with “in-kind” benefits such as staffing or polling.
And there’s nothing stopping them from paying for ads at full price, either.
That still doesn’t quite explain the mystery behind Greene’s political committee.
According to his financial disclosure, a required document for all candidates, he’s worth $3.3 billion, and while much of that wealth is tied up in LLCs that handle his many rental properties across the country, he does have a lot of liquidity — his personal bank accounts were stocked with $230.7 million on May 31.
It’s possible that he’s planning for some of his companies to start moving in cash rather than expending his personal funds, and it’s also possible that it’s being set up to deliver on Greene’s promise to fund down-ballot Democrats if he is elected as the gubernatorial nominee.
The committee’s statement of organization, though boilerplate, lends credence to that theory, as it lists its scope as including: “candidate and ballot issues, statewide, legislative, multidistrict, countywide and municipal elections.”
Either way, Greene is pumping millions into his bid with no signs of slowing down before the primary election is in the books. Current polls put him in contention for fourth place alongside Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum while former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is at the top with a slim lead over former Congresswoman Gwen Graham.
The primary election is Aug. 28. The next finance report for Florida Defense Fund is due Aug. 17.