Nikki Fried scoops up cash from big business, and ‘dark money’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is receiving significant campaign donations from big Florida businesses, including Florida Power and Light and Big Sugar, campaign finance records show.

Meanwhile, US Rep. Charlie Crist, the other Democrat running for governor, receives most of his donations from liberal philanthropists and labor unions.

This information comes as the democratic gubernatorial primary draw nears, indicating whos putting their weight behind each contender and potentially swaying critical, on-the-fence voters.

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Along with donations from Big Business, Fried also got significant contributions from “dark-money committees,” organizations designed to hide their, often wealthy, donors’ identities.

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Daniel Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida, said Fried “is getting a not insignificant amount from big business and dark money” and raises the question of how much Fried will be beholden to her donors. This question is now spreading across the internet, putting Fried under scrutiny.

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Fried responded to the accusations on Tuesday.

“Of course, I get donations from everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that’s what’s empowering me. The only people I am beholden to are the people, and I have said that time and time again, look at my record. It is defending the people, and that will never change.”

Corporate and dark money groups could be throwing in their lot with Fried for many reasons. As Friends opponents suggest, the idea that the donations are attempts to corrupt and control Fried is possible, but it’s certainly not the only reasonable explanation.

Fried is still the Agricultural Commissioner and will be if she loses her race, meaning it’d be in industries’ like Big Sugar’s interests to support the person that regulates them.

Or, theoretically, there could be no ulterior motive whatsoever. Political science professor at the University of Central Florida Aubery Jewitt floated this idea.

 “Big Sugar and utilities could not be cozying up to Democrats., They are contributing to the Democrat they think they will be more able to easily beat or possibly they may think is a better candidate.”

However, Fried has also received money from the same organizations and people involved in the ghost candidate scandal, in which organizations supported no-party candidates with little chance of winning in order to pull votes away from more mainstream contenders. Between this and the dark money committees, many of Fried’s donors, like her true motives, remain a mystery.


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