Committee tied to Rick Scott raises $910,000 during first 3 months of 2012

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A political committee that played an important role in Gov. Rick Scott’s 2010 election raised $910,000 in contributions during the first three months of this year, according to state records.

The Let’s Get to Work Committee also has started quickly in April, reporting on its website that it has already brought in about $438,000 — with large contributions coming from private prison operator The Geo Group Inc., and a Florida Optometric Association political committee.

With a possible Scott reelection campaign still two years away, the committee has stockpiled cash. The committee spent only about $25,500 between January 1 and March 31, with most of that going to consulting, catering and accounting costs.

A handful of large donors have shelled out most of the contributions, including some people and businesses with stakes in state-government issues.

Developer Gary Morse and other people and a company associated with The Villages community in Central Florida gave a total of $180,000 in March, according to the records. Morse has long been a major Republican donor, and The Villages has become a frequent campaign stop for GOP candidates, including Scott.

Miami-Dade health-care executive Miguel Fernandez, meanwhile, contributed $125,000 in January. Fernandez heads Simply Healthcare Plans Inc., an HMO that was established in 2010 and is part of the Medicaid and Florida Healthy Kids programs.

Other large contributors during the first quarter included Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and United Group Underwriters Inc., which each sent $100,000 to the committee.

Blue Cross, which this week began being known as “Florida Blue,” is typically one of the state’s largest political contributors. It is involved in numerous health-care issues in Tallahassee and announced last year that it planned to move into the Medicaid program.

United Group Underwriters is affiliated with United Automobile Insurance Co. With auto insurers complaining about fraud and increased costs, Scott and legislative leaders in March pushed through changes in the personal-injury protection insurance system.

This month, The Geo Group and the Florida Optometric committee each contributed $100,000, according to a list on the Let’s Get To Work website. Geo has been a key player during the past year in a legislative debate about prison privatization, while optometrists want the Legislature to give them broader power to prescribe medications.

The list also indicates developer Donald Trump contributed $50,000.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.