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Despite campaign controversy, Lisa Wheeler-Brown out-raises Will Newton in latest reports

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

If campaign finance reports are any indication, Lisa Wheeler-Brown supporters are unfazed by recent reports highlighting a series of campaign finance missteps that could violate Florida election laws. Reports filed Friday show Wheeler-Brown raised $11,700 between September 14 through October 4th.

During that same time frame, Wheeler-Brown’s opponent, Will Newton, raised $9,415.

Reports showing Wheeler-Brown used $500 in campaign funds for personal dental work, misreported that expense as office space for more than six months and failed to report in-kind contributions for office space began rolling out on September 20 and yet Wheeler-Brown continued to rake in contributions.

Even though Wheeler-Brown out-raised Newton this reporting period, Newton still has out-raised her overall. He’s brought in a total of $57,085 throughout his campaign while Wheeler-Brown has brought in just over $55,500.

Newton also has nearly $20,000 left in his campaign coffers compared to less than $9,000 left in Wheeler-Brown’s.

Both candidates forked out substantial expenses this report for campaign mailers. Wheeler-Brown doled out more than $14,000 to Mad Dog Mail while Newton spent about $11,000 for campaign mailers from Politicus.

Contributions continue to pour in for Newton from outside groups. He recently enjoyed maximum $1,000 contributions from Firefighters and Paramedics for Public Safety, the Dade County Firefighters PAC, Miami Firefighter PAC and the IAFF Firefighter PAC.

In a nod toward Newton’s hesitation to move forward with a deal to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to explore stadium sites outside of St. Pete under the plan brokered by Mayor Rick Kriseman, Newton also pulled in $750 from Ferg’s Sports Bar.

Harvey’s on Fourth Street owner Daniel Harvey Jr. kicked in $500 as did the Florida Leadership Committee and three Realtor committees – Realtors Political Advocacy, Realtor Political Action Committee and Realtors Political Activity Committee.

Pinellas County School Board member Linda Lerner contributed $100 to Newton’s campaign and former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker signed a check for $200.

Meanwhile, Wheeler-Brown’s contributions continue to show strong local support. St. Pete resident Arnt Monge donated $1,000. And St. Pete City Council member Darden Rice re-upped her previous contributions from the Primary Election with a total of $1,000 donated through three separate contributions.

Wheeler-Brown also enjoyed $500 contributions from St. Pete residents Larry Biddle and Toni Russell. St. Pete attorney Agostinho Ribeiro cut a check for $750 to Wheeler-Brown.

Two state-based union groups – the SEIU Florida Public Services Union PAC and SEIU Florida State Council PAC – each gave Wheeler-Brown $1,000. Another $1,000 contribution also rolled in from the local Stonewall Democrats group.

Wheeler-Brown also brought in funding from her own paid campaign manager. Meagan Salisbury donated $250 while her fiance and co-worker for Blue Ticket Consulting, Tom Alte, contributed $1,000.

A PAC Alte serves as a registered agent for, the Florida Voters Fund, bank-rolled a negative mailer sent to voters Friday, the same day campaign finance reports were due.

The campaign finance reports also show a $500 reimbursement to Wheeler-Brown for undisclosed payments.

Not only is the race between Wheeler-Brown and Newton for the District 7 seat on City Council getting pricey, it’s also getting heated.

The two campaigns have swapped criticism including Wheeler-Brown’s questionable campaign finance activity, Newton’s track record as a bargainer, his similarities between his brother, incumbent City Council member Wengay Newton, and his past tax troubles.

The race will be decided November 3. Two other City Council elections and four referenda will share the ballot, but none are as contentious as this race.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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