Lenny Curry opens up to Gary Fineout about Mike Fernandez, fundraising

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As the abrupt departure of Gov. Rick Scott’s finance co-chair sets off a lot of finger-pointing, one key player — Republican Party of Florida chair Lenny Curry — has remained relatively quiet.

Until now, according to Gary Fineout in The Fine Print blog.

Curry received emails from Mike Fernandez, the billionaire GOP donor, who abruptly resigned as finance chair amid differences with the tone and tenor of the Scott re-election team. In the emails, Fernandez makes several accusations, including one that top-level staffers spoke in a mocking Mexican accent.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, among other Scott supporters, deny the incidents happened. One called Fernandez a “renegade donor” who sent “bizarre” emails.

In a conversation with Fineout, Curry takes a slightly different approach from the others in “Scott world.”

“He spoke in glowing terms about Fernandez,” Fineout writes, “saying he was an integral part in helping both the campaign and the Republican Party raise money this past quarter.”

“He and I have shared the same goal,” Curry added, “and that’s to re-elect Rick Scott.”

Curry feels that the Fernandez emails about concerns were part of an “internal discussion and dialogue.”

The RPOF leader told Fineout he is “grateful for the work Fernandez did and said ‘it’s unfortunate he felt frustrated’ about how the campaign was running.”

If there was evidence that a staffer was being culturally insensitive, Curry said, that person would be fired.

“I don’t see any evidence of Republican Party of Florida employees saying those kind of things. I won’t tolerate that.”

In the fallout of the Fernandez accusations, Fineout believes Republicans are working “hard to steer news away from this narrative,” by releasing digital ads and posting fundraising results 10 days ahead of schedule. Previously, GOP campaigns waited until filing day before any discussion of fundraising.

However, the continuing chatter of the Fernandez situation leaves Fineout wondering how this will affect the governor’s fundraising power going forward.

Perhaps a few of the large Florida donors will decide to let Scott – who vowed to raise $100 million to win re-election — reach in his own deep pockets from this point forward.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.