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Mel Sembler donates $500K to Vote No on 2 campaign in May

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Drug-Free Florida raised more than $500,000 in May, almost all of which came from a single donor.

State records show the committee raised $500,085 in the one-month fundraising period. Mel Sembler, a prominent St. Petersburg fundraiser, donated $500,000 in May.

In April, Sembler announced he planned to raise once again money to defeat the state’s medical marijuana initiative. At the time, Sembler told the Tampa Bay Times he planned to raise at least $10 million to help defeat the amendment.

The assertion led to John Morgan, chair of the United for Care campaign, to taunt Sembler, saying he had donated millions to support the medical marijuana initiative, while Sembler had given far less to the opposition movement.

“I made a commitment to see compassion come to Florida in the form of medical marijuana, and I’ve put over $7 million of my own money towards fulfilling that commitment,” said Morgan in an April email to supporters. “He raised $7.5 million last time. Guess how much Mel the Moocher put in of his own money in 2014? Only 1.3% of the $7.5 million he raised. $100,000.”

State records show the gave a $100,000 donation in March 2014. One of the biggest donors in the 2014 election cycle was Sheldon Adelson, who gave $5.5 million toward the opposition effort.

The committee, which is backing the VOTE NO on 2 campaign, spent $50,658 in May.

VOTE NO on 2 mounted a successful campaign in 2014 to defeat a similar medical marijuana amendment. The 2014 amendment received 58 percent support, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law.

Drug-Free Florida has raised more than $6.8 million since 2014. The organization has more than $486,000 cash on hand.

May fundraising totals for People United for Medical Marijuana, the fundraising committee backing the 2016 medical marijuana initiative, were not immediately available.

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