How much is too much?
In September, 2021, Cecil Pendergrass’s campaign war chest grew by $7100, $6000 of which were donations of $500 or more from developer-related interests, including three out-of-town realtor PACs. That is 84.5% of the $7100 coming from high dollar developer-connected donors. Of equal significance is that the campaign received smaller checks from two real estate investment entities located at the same address amounting to another $500. That means that a whopping $6500 of this $7100 (or 91.5%) was donated by development or real estate interests.
Since the campaign’s commencement in April, almost 70% of high dollar ($500+) donations to Cecil’s campaign have come from interests connected to development — $7 out of every $10 received. Other special interest contributions include high dollar donors in the hospitality, health care and transportation sectors. It is worth noting that as county commissioner, Pendergrass sits on the county Port Authority overseeing all “air and sea transportation and commerce” in the County. Can this man represent everyday voters when he makes decisions as county commissioner, zoning commissioner or port commissioner at the same time receiving the bulk of his campaign donations from the special interests he oversees? There is something very wrong here. It is still a full year before the 2022 election for county commissioner and right now he has no opponent. His continuing hunt for money is unseemly and makes us wonder what his donors expect in return for their largesse.
Follow this continuing saga yourself. Check out his campaign’s finance reports by going to lee.vote/Campaign-Reports/Campaign-Finance-Reports and clicking on a report date, and you, too, can find the names of donors and their businesses or medical practices.
Another area of interest: seven proposed redistricting maps are being scrutinized by a group of concerned Lee County citizens who successfully lobbied our county commissioners for an after-work public hearing. That hearing is to be held in the BoCC chambers (2120 Main Street, Fort Myers), on Tuesday, November 2 at 6 pm. Originally, the county had scheduled two hearings to take place during the morning meetings of the county commissioners, most inconvenient to working residents who might like to participate in the review process. Of interest is that while this citizens’ group had to fight to get one after-work public hearing, Collier County is holding five after-work public meetings to get citizen input on its redistricting proposals, and all are to take place in locations outside of its county administration building – in other words, where people live. This sad state of affairs is only further evidence of our county’s disdain for citizen engagement.
Information on the proposed redistricting maps can be found at www.leegov.com/countymanager/redistricting. If you cannot attend the hearing and wish to submit comments that will be shared with the commissioners, click on eComment on the landing page and submit your thoughts.
“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.