Florida Trend's Convention Coverage
Fundraising Begins at the RNC
Fundraising will be in full swing at the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week. Here’s a look at some events slated for prominent Florida politicos.
» U.S. Senate hopeful Connie Mack will hold an “Evening at the Ballpark” fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 28 at the Hyatt Regency. Supporters can get into the reception, which will feature an appearance by Ann Romney, for $1,000. “Host couples” pay $10,000.
» Sen. Marco Rubio isn’t up for re-election until 2016, but he’s planned a “Paint the Senate Red Fundraising Bash” from 9 p.m. to midnight Aug. 27 at the The Cube at Rivergate Tower to benefit his Rubio/Reclaim America Joint Committee. The tiered tickets are named after legendary artists: “Britto” donors gain general admission for $1,000; “Warhol” donors pay $5,000 per couple and can attend the reception only; $10,000 “Monet” donors have access to a backstage reception and photo-op with Rubio; and $20,000 “Michelangelo donors” get the full works (private dinner, a backstage reception and a photo op).
» State lawmakers are also taking advantage of fundraising opportunities. Incoming GOP leaders of the state will be toasted Wednesday Aug. 29 during a midafternoon fundraising reception at the Bayshore home of Nancy Watkins, a prominent GOP campaign accountant who serves as the treasurer for dozens of candidates and political groups throughout the state and across the nation. According to an invitation, WellCare Health Plans served as a “host sponsor” of the event, which will feature Florida Senate President Designate Don Gaetz, incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner and 2014 Speaker Chris Dorworth. Contributions will benefit the Senate Majority 2012 and House Majority 2012 committees.
» Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be a frequent draw next week. On Monday, Aug. 27, he’ll also be a guest of honor, along with Rubio, Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Nebraska Gov. Brian Sandoval, at a joint RNC and American Conservative Union party called Nuestra Noche: Midnight in Ybor. On Tuesday, Aug. 28, he’ll be featured at a luncheon co-hosted by the Hispanic Leadership network and SUNPAC, a Miami-based group founded by the former governor’s son Jeb Bush Jr. Later that evening, Bush will be feted at a reception at Tampa at the home of John and Kim Kirtley. Kirtley, a Tampa businessman, was the architect of the corporate tax credit scholarship program. Donations to the event range from $5,000 to $15,000 and will benefit the Foundation for Florida’s Future, the education-focused non-profit founded and chaired by Bush.
» Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, meanwhile, is having a birthday bash thrown in her honor by the Americans Restoring Conservative Values PAC, a Georgia-based group that according to its website is dedicated to “actively pursuing opportunities to spread the conservative values of the Republican Party to Puerto Ricans, African-Americans, American Indians, Asians, Mexicans, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc.” The cost of attending her birthday gala at the Raymond James Stadium Club ranges from $50 for general admission to $200 for inclusion in a VIP reception. Sponsorship opportunities range from $25,000 to $75,000.
» Local businesses and charities are also getting in on the fundraising action. The Rays Baseball Foundation, the charitable arm of the Tampa Bay Rays, is holding a “Salute” to members of the House and Senate Energy and Commerce Committees at Tropicana Field. Attendees will be able to “take the field for batting, fielding and socializing at Tropicana Field … meet baseball legends and enjoy a day at the air-conditioned ballpark,” according to an invitation. Costs range from $2,500, which includes 10 general admission tickets to schmooze and socialize on the field, to $50,000 for the “Grand Slam Package,” which includes 50 “all-inclusive batting tickets plus 100 general admission tickets,” along with food and beverages. Grand Slam donors also get a special batting session before the official start of the event as well as top billing on promotional materials.
» U.S. Rep. Allen West, a Tea Party favorite who is facing a tough re-election battle in a newly drawn Florida district, will hold a fundraiser in the Citizens United tent on Thursday, Aug. 30, from 4 to 6 p.m. Donations are $500 to $1,000 for individual donors and $1,000 to $2,500 per PAC.
» Money isn’t the focus of every event slated for the convention week. For many, the chance to hold court with some of the nation’s most powerful decision-makers is invaluable. To that end, Tampa Bay & Company, Tampa’s tourism and hospitality organization, will be taking select convention guests on a “brand tasting and tour” of Bloomin’ Brands, the Tampa-based parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s and other popular casual restaurant chains. The tour is from 4 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 28. Moffitt Cancer Center, one of the nation’s leading cancer research and treatment facilities, is hosting a “Congressional Day of Discovery” from 1 to 3 p.m. on the 28th for select convention-goers.
NOTE: To keep track of these and other events slated for next week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, go to politicalpartytime.org, a project of the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation.