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Senate President Collects Cash from Special Interests

September 23, 2009

MikeHaridopolos To maintain his position as Senate President, Sen. Mike Haridopolos has raised a staggering $1.1 million from special interests.

The largest check, for $225,000, came from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington; D.C. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida, based in Jacksonville, sent a check for $100,000 to Haridopolos’ committee. Other donors ran the gamut of capital lobbying interests: agriculture, alcoholic beverages, hospitals and real estate development.

And Haridopolos said he’s just getting warmed up: He said the $1.1 million is a fraction of the $12 million he plans to help the Republican Party raise during the current election cycle to aid the GOP’s slate of 2010 candidates.

The Melbourne Republican said he formed the Freedom First Committee in May with a major goal in mind: to make sure that former House Speaker John Thrasher won a northeast Florida Senate seat that became vacant with the death of GOP Sen. Jim King.

Thrasher pledged to support Haridopolos for Senate president, so Haridopolos hit up deep-pocketed donors to pay for advertisements attacking Thrasher’s opponents, to counteract an advertising campaign against Thrasher funded largely by trial attorneys.

Lawmakers’ political committees draw big donations from special interests [St. Petersburg Times]

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