April 2021 “Cha-Ching”

First report

For April 2021, Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, candidate for reelection, reported receiving $20,730 in campaign contributions, with 18 of 42 donors giving $500+. 

Of this total, 62.7% ($13,000) came from development-related interests:  businesses ($7,000 or 33.8%), individuals related to the development industry ($5,000 or 24.1%) and $1,000 (or 4.8%) from other entities such as the Old Corkscrew Golf Club Management (a property in the DR/GR containing wetlands, which received two Lee County Comprehensive Plan changes in 2019 allowing it to add commercial uses to the property.  Another individual donor of $1,000 serves as this entity’s registered representative).  Other donors include what appears to be a 501(c)(3) family foundation and a political action committee.  

The May 2021 campaign report has been filed; WFBL will do an analysis of donors and issue that report shortly.

As a watchdog/good government group focusing on Lee County, Women For a Better Lee will be reporting on campaign contributions received by candidates leading up to the 2022 election and regularly publishing our findings.  Our purpose is to educate citizens on how candidate campaigns are financed.

Every month, declared candidates for county offices are required to file campaign finance reports with the Supervisor of Elections (www.lee.vote/Campaign-Reports/Campaign-Finance-Reports).  These reports detail campaign donations and expenditures by candidates. 

Women For a Better Lee will analyze these reports and publish a monthly analysis detailing contribution trends, connections between donors and candidates, and interesting factoids on donors. 

State law allows a maximum donation of $1,000 per entity; however, we find that many companies (and other entities) donate separately from their principals, as do relatives and partners of the principals. For example, a prominent local doctor contributed $1,000 through his business and another $1,000 as an individual.  We should note that this is totally legal and is very common.  As we move forward, we will highlight these connections and the amounts donated; for those who want more specific detail, we encourage everyone to search the monthly campaign reports at www.lee.vote/Campaign-Reports/Campaign-Finance-Reports.

All information comes from from public records.  While our report focuses on donations of $500+, occasionally we will also highlight contributions of lesser amounts when we notice patterns and trends.  It is important to remember that the numbers we are reporting are only from high dollar contributors and that the percentages reflect only those donations.  Contributions of $250 and less can change these numbers and percentages, but because of the heavy time commitment required to research each and every name, it is difficult for us to do so.

We want to thank the nine WFBL volunteers who are doing this research.

“Cha-ching” brings you monthly info and analysis of campaign financing trends in our county political races.  ALL information we report is publicly available and donors’ names can be found at http://www.lee.vote/Campaign-Reports/Campaign-Finance-Reports.