Former state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) “collected just over $1 million in January between his main campaign account ($379,452) and his Florida Grown political committee ($654,000). He began February with nearly $16.8 million in cash on hand between the two committees.”
Rep. Ron DeSantis’s (R) “campaign advertised a gaudy $3.3 million January haul — but more than $2.4 million of that figure was raised last year by a pro-DeSantis PAC and transferred to a new PAC in January. … DeSantis … raised $894,020 in new contributions in January. … The Fund For Florida’s Future nearly zeroed out its account last month, giving $2 million to the new DeSantis PAC on Jan. 18 and another $447,394 on Jan. 31. All told, DeSantis began February with more than $3.3 million in cash on hand.”
Among Democrats, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine (D) “raked in the most January money. His All About Florida PAC collected $647,000 while his main campaign raised $105,894. Levine began February with $4.1 million in cash on hand between the two entities. Levine so far has poured more than $3.6 million of his own money into the race.”
Former Rep. Gwen Graham (D) “raised a combined $453,906 during January and began February with nearly $3.3 million in cash on hand.”
“Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) started this month with $676,528 in available cash between his campaign and his Forward Florida PAC after raising $148,746 in January.” (Palm Beach Post)
BIG NAMES. “Vice President Mike Pence’s Great America Committee gave the maximum $5,400 contribution to” Rep. Ron DeSantis’s (R) “federal campaign last quarter, just weeks before he launched his bid for Florida governor, according to recent FEC filings. A spokesman said Monday that DeSantis refunded half of the donation in January since he isn’t seeking reelection.” (National Journal)
DeSantis’s reelection committee reported $1.6 million on hand as of Dec. 31. DeSantis launched his campaign on Jan. 5 after President Trump endorsed DeSantis on Dec. 22. A DeSantis spokesman: “No decisions have been made about what we will do with his federal campaign account at this point.”
Pence spokesman Marty Obst, when asked if Great America Committee will monetarily support DeSantis’s gubernatorial bid: “We are continuing to evaluate races around the country on behalf of Great America Committee, and look forward to supporting a number of qualified candidates who support the White House agenda.” (Hotline reporting)
“Pence’s Great America Committee PAC distributed over $40,000 to a handful of Republican gubernatorial candidates, including incumbents, in the second half of 2017.”
“In the short term, it’s an effort to increase the possibility that Republican candidates or governors running for reelection have an easier time winning their primaries and then the general elections in their states. Longer-term, it’s a move to strengthen the ranks of loyalists to President Donald Trump and Pence and prepare for 2020.” (Politico)
DeSantis introduced and endorsed former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka at the St. Lucie County Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday. (Tampa Bay Times)
State House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R) “headed to Las Vegas for the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition.” (Tampa Bay Times)
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"Nearly a year before Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired senior FBI official Andrew McCabe for what Sessions called a 'lack of candor,'" McCabe launched a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions withheld information from Congress regarding his contact with Russian operatives. "Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly accused Sessions of misleading them" during his testimony, "and called on federal authorities to investigate." When Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, "several top Republican and Democratic lawmakers were informed of the probe during a closed-door briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and McCabe."
The Senate passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, or SESTA, by a vote of 97-2. The bill now heads to the White House, where President Trump is expected to sign it into law. SESTA lifts federal immunity for internet platforms involved in sex trafficking, "a move that prosecutors, victims and anti-trafficking activists are heralding as an essential step in cracking down on the crime." Opponents of SESTA argue had argued that lifting the immunity could open websites up to lawsuits based on user-generated content, which could lead to a crackdown on free speech.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg responded to reports that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the personal data of 50 million users, and kept the data after being told by the social media company to delete it. "I started Facebook," wrote Zuckerberg, "and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform ... While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn't change what happened in the past." On Monday, Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for “Mr. Zuckerberg and other CEOs” to testify "about social media manipulation in the 2016 election."
"The White House is backing a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill despite opposition from some House conservatives ... 'The President and the leaders discussed their support for the bill, which includes more funds to rebuild the military, such as the largest pay raise for our troops in a decade, more than 100 miles of new construction for the border wall and other key domestic priorities, like combatting the opioid crisis and rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure,' White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement." The details of the bill are expected to be released later today.