In fundraising invitation, Aakash Patel plays fast and loose with elected officials’ names

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

Oh, Aakash…

I really, really, really don’t want to start picking on Aakash Patel, the serial-networker turned Republican Hillsborough County Commission candidate because, well, he’s a nice enough guy.

There are some in the community who do snicker about Patel’s insatiable desire to meet the person standing behind the person he’s presently talking to, but so what? Dude knows how to promote himself and his clients. Where’s the harm in that? The answer is, there isn’t any.

Or at least there wasn’t until Patel became an official candidate. Now, everything he says and does will be scrutinized.

Take, for example, this invitation to a fundraiser for Patel’s 2018 campaign.

Reading top to bottom, the invite starts off well.

Sharp logo.

A-list lobbyist Nick Iarossi’s name on the Host Committee.

So far, so good.

But what about these special guests Patel is featuring?

Commissioners Stacy White, Victor Crist, Ken Hagen, Sandy Murman, and state Rep. Shawn Harrison.

This invite sure does makes it seem like Patel has locked up some serious GOP support in the Republican primary.

But check the fine print.

“Special appearance does not constitute an endorsement” the invite reads in, what, a three-point sized font.

Never in 20 years of political consulting have I received a fundraising invitation that listed special appearances from local elected officials who had not endorsed the candidate.

Imagine for a moment if you saw a poster for a movie directed by a local director. On the poster are some of the biggest names in Hollywood: Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, etc.

You’d probably be excited to see this movie, right?

Well, how excited would you be to see the movie if in small print the movie poster reads that just because those stars names were listed that does not constitute they are starring in the film?

That’s what Patel is doing here. You’re reading Stacy White and Sandy Murman and thinking they’ve endorsed Patel. But the reality is something entirely different.

It’s a bait-and-switch.

It also reinforces the knock on Patel: that he is a too-eager young man trying so hard to be liked that he turns people off.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.