Hillary Clinton's Ten Most Interesting Florida Megadonors
Photo by Hillary for Iowa via Wikimedia Commons
Last night, Hillary Clinton graced an undisclosed Miami Beach location with a $50,000-a-plate dinner hosted by sugar tycoon Alfonso Fanjul. This morning, as the dust from Clinton's motorcade settles over South Florida, New Times examines a few of the candidate's biggest local donors.
The names come from a recently released list of boosters who have each helped raise more than $100,000 for Clinton this election. (During the 2008 campaign, these megadonors were called "Hillraisers," until someone in Clintonland figured out that "raising Hill" didn't exactly jibe with Clinton's message of steady, responsible government. They're now called "Hillblazers," which takes care of that problem but also doesn't seem to make any sense.)
They include a scandal-ridden member of her State Department team, two pot advocates, the man running to be the first ever openly HIV-positive congressman, and a slumlord who allegedly took a New York housing project for a $40 million ride. For better or worse, these are the ten most interesting Hillblazers in Florida this year.
Photo via Florida Bar websiite
10. Fred Cunningham, Palm Beach Gardens.
Fred Cunningham is an attorney with the law firm Domnick Cunningham & Whalen and a former president of the Florida Justice Association. In 2013, he was part of the legal team that represented Trayvon Martin's family in a wrongful death suit against the homeowners' association that put George Zimmerman in charge of the neighborhood watch. The family reportedly settled the suit for more than $1 million.
9. Mitchell Berger, Fort Lauderdale.
After the Sunshine State royally screwed up the 2000 election, Mitchell Berger was one of the lawyers fighting on behalf of Al Gore to demand a recount in Florida. He was forever immortalized as a character in the 2008 movie "Recount" in which, as one reviewer described it, "a splendid cast mostly just sits around watching the bad news on television." Berger has stood with the Clintons since he served on Bill's transition team in 1992. When he married Sharon Kegerreis, a partner at his law firm, in 2013, the couple got a shout-out from an even bigger Clinton supporter:
8. Christine Jennings, Sarasota.
Christine Jennings, a retired banker, had a Bush v. Gore-style election debacle of her own in 2006, when she ran for Congress as a Democrat from Florida's 13th district. She lost by 368 votes – but, somehow, more than 18,000 of the 237,861 electronic ballots cast that November recorded no vote in her race. Ultimately, a judge ruled that Jennings could not examine the voting machines' code to determine if they malfunctioned. Her Republican opponent, Vern Buchanan, held onto his victory. Jennings ran again in 2008, but after spending much of her campaign attacking Buchanan for allegedly not paying his income taxes, Jennings' 2006 campaign failed to pay $70,126 in payroll taxes, IRS documents showed.
7. Brian Goldmeier, Miami.
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Brian Goldmeier is a Dade County rainmaker recently cited for helping Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez raise more than $3 million for his 2016 reelection campaign. Still, even while praising his fundraising efforts, Gimenez's finance chair, Ralph Garcia Toledo, called Goldmeier "one of the great pains in the asses I’ve ever met in politics or in life." Curiously, when he's not fundraising for Hillary Clinton, Goldmeier also raises money for Miami-Dade Commissioner Lynda Bell, who the Florida Bulldog describes as "one of the most conservative Republicans on the county commission." (Bell served as president of the anti-abortion Right to Life group and posed for a Dade County library poster holding a copy of Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.)
6. Bob Poe, Orlando.
Bob Poe, a businessman, former state Democratic party chair, and candidate to represent Florida's 10th district in Congress, announced in June that he is HIV-positive. If elected, he would be the first ever openly HIV-positive member of Congress and one of the legislature's few openly gay members. Independently wealthy after founding a company that sold emergency communication systems to local governments, Poe is largely funding his own campaign for the Congressional seat vacated by incumbent Daniel Webster.
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