Jackie Toledo-tied super PAC spends $70K slashing Laurel Lee

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A super PAC just dropped more than $70,000 on negative media against congressional candidate Laurel Lee. Funding for the group traces back to a political committee once run by Republican Primary opponent Jackie Toledo.

Engineering America’s Future, a Tampa-based federal PAC formed in March, reported a $60,000 media placement, as well as $7,000 in production costs with Premier Constituent Services. Additionally, the super PAC spent $3,853 on text messaging and voter contact through Alliance Forge.

FEC reports indicate only that the spending opposes Lee, a former Florida Secretary of State running in Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

The super PAC has reported $110,000 in fundraising since its formation. About $10,000 of that comes through the Barrett Family Foundation Trust. But the bulk of its funding came courtesy a $100,000 donation in March from Engineering a Better Future, a state political committee formed in 2017 and originally Chaired by Toledo, a Republican state Representative from Tampa.

The state committee was reorganized in February, with Treasurer Michael Millner taking over as Chair. But that lasted less than a month before the committee was formally disbanded on March 23, the same day it wrote that six-figure contribution to the new super PAC.

As it closed shop, the committee in March also gave $10,000 to Jensen Beach-based Save Our Beaches and made a $1,000 contribution to Karen Gonzalez Pittman, a Tampa Republican running for Toledo’s House District 65, and $500 to Jennifer Wilson, a St. Petersburg Republican running in House District 59.

Lee and Toledo both have filed for the open CD 15 seat and face state Sen. Kelli Stargel and veterans Demetries Grimes and Mac McGovern in an Aug. 23 Republican Primary.

Federal law, unlike Florida law, prohibits any coordination between candidates and super PACs, and Toledo’s campaign said it has no knowledge of what messaging Engineering America’s Future may put out.

Notably, it has become increasingly commonplace for Florida candidates who utilized state political committees to obtain office to convert that funding into super PACs. For example, Stargel’s former committee contributed to the Conservative Warriors PAC, which has also run mailers attacking Lee.

Additionally, a state committee controlled by former state Sen. Tom Lee, Lee’s husband, converted to a political committee which recently donated seven figures to the Conservative Action Fund.

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