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Session Starts with Loads of Cash

An unprecedented surge of special interest money representing health care interests has been donated to state legislative political committees, the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau reports (paywall alert).

More than 20 political committees run by state legislatures have collected more than $100,000 in soft money since 2012, the newspapers’ review found. A dozen raised more than $200,000.

Health care companies or people in the industry were among the biggest check writers for the 10 legislators who have raised the most for their political committees, the Herald/Times report showed. The largest single check came from insurer Florida Blue.

Many of the donations can be tied to specific bills being considered in the 2014 Legislative session, which starts Tuesday.

Donations tied to health care interests included $525,000 to five state legislators. They are:

  • Sen. Joe Negron: Health care executive Mike Fernandez, $50,000; MCNA Medicaid dental care group, $50,000
  • Sen. Bill Galvano: Automated Health Care, $25,000; Florida Medical Association, $25,000
  • Rep. Steve Crisafulli: Florida Blue, $275,000
  • Sen. Denise Grimsley: Florida Medical Association, $50,000
  • Rep. Jose Oliva, Florida Optometric Association, $50,000

In addition to its donation to Negron, the MCNA in the past seven months has written more than $355,000 in checks to Republican political committees or the state’s Republican Party.
Fernandez, a top chairman in Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign, has donated $250,000 this cycle, according to the Herald/Times.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.