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Ritch Workman-backed committee spends $$$ on ‘fundraiser’ around Kentucky Derby, has little to show

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The political committee backing Ritch Workman has spent hundreds of dollars on out-of-state travel for what it called fundraisers, but contributions may not always follow.

State records show Citizens United for Liberty and Freedom spent hundreds of dollars earlier this year on fundraisers in Kentucky. The committee is backing Workman’s Senate District 17 bid, and the Melbourne Republican is listed as its chair.

The organization spent $4,236 for a room at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville earlier this spring. Campaign finance records show the organization spent $210 at Gary’s on Spring and $164 at The Brown Hotel. The expenses were categorized as a “fundraiser” and reported on May 5 and May 6, one day before the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

Records show the group didn’t receive any contributions on or near those days. The committee brought in about $40,000 in May, but all of those contributions were reported between May 16 and May 31.

The Kentucky trip isn’t the only time Citizens United for Liberty and Freedom reported out-of-state expenses.

In September 2014, the committee spent at least $400 in New York City. That sum included $249 at Bryant Park Grill for an “event meal;” $47 at Carnegie Spirits for event meeting supplies, and $10.89 at Zootique at Central Park, which was listed as a travel expense.

The expenses in New York City occurred between Sept. 1, 2014, and Sept. 3, 2014. The committee didn’t receive any contributions on or near those days, but did report receiving $12,000 in contributions that month. All of those contributions came on Sept. 15 and Sept. 24.

In November of that same year, the committee spent at least $1,496 on a trip to Nashville. Records show the committee spent $1,387 at a Nashville Hilton, and $108 at The Southern, a downtown Nashville steakhouse.

The charges in Music City occurred on Nov. 5, 2014, and Nov. 7, 2014, the same weekend as the 48th annual Country Music Awards. State records show the committee received three contributions totaling $10,000 on Nov. 6. It received a $5,000 donation on Nov. 7.

When asked, David Bishop, a spokesman for Workman’s campaign, did not provide information about the purpose of the Nashville and Kentucky trips.

“Many participants in these fundraisers pay in advance, others bring checks to the event, some pay later,” he said in a statement in response to questions about the committee’s expenditures. “Ritch has been very successful raising money for his campaign because he’s been an accomplished leader in the Florida House. That’s in stark contrast to his opponent who’s using her husband’s wealth to try and buy a seat in the Florida Senate.”

Since 2014, the committee has spent $18,277  on what it has labeled a fundraiser. Many of those expenses are at restaurants, and vary from $797 at Bella Bella in Tallahassee and $604 at Austin’s Chophouse in Melbourne to $14.82 at Niki’s Family Restaurant in Melbourne and $18.81 at Andrew’s Downtown in Tallahassee.

Workman faces Vero Beach Republican Debbie Mayfield in the Aug. 30 primary.

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