Business leaders write five-figure checks to Charlie Crist committee

Business leaders write five-figure checks to Charlie Crist committee


New York developer John Catsimatidis is among the big donors.

A committee supporting U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s latest run for Governor has already pulled in $87,000 in June.

The biggest donation came from Kris Lawrence, a Southwest Ranches business owner with strong business ties to the Seminole Tribal Council. He gave $15,000 to the political committee Friends of Charlie Crist.

It wasn’t the only five-figure check written to the committee so far this month. Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis, Odessa lawyer Vincent Pawlowski, Highland Beach private investigator Jeff Hollander and Jupiter accountant Kimberly Cobb all gave $10,000 a piece to the Republican Governor-turned-Democratic-Congressman.

Catsimatidis stands out as the most high-profile “Friend” to chip in this month. The billionaire talk show host is the only one on the list of major donors in June who doesn’t live in Florida. He holds billions in assets in New York and Florida real estate, including in St. Pete, and owns Gristedes Foods, the biggest supermarket chain serving Manhattan. He boasts a friendship with former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But a search through OpenSecrets of Catsimatidis’ political activity shows he’s supported a number of Republicans through the years, and that he once donated (but was refunded) money for then-U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is 2018. DeSantis now serves as Governor of Florida, a seat Crist hopes to nab from him next year.

Crist announced in May that he would seek a return to the Governor’s Mansion, this time as a leader in his new party.

Notably, expenditures for Friends of Charlie Crist remain relatively low. In less than two months since its formation, the committee has spent less than $35,000, fewer than $16,000 of it since the start of June.

The committees supporting all the major candidates for Governor have been reporting their donations and expenditures regularly through the month. The biggest vendor expense so far has been $5,044 sent to MBA Consulting Group in Washington for compliance services.


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