Bilirakis Campaign Accused of Inflating Local Donor Support

Said 90 percent of contributions came from Floridians

The campaign of Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., is accused of inflating the percentage of campaign contributions he said came from Floridians. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The campaign of Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., is accused of inflating the percentage of campaign contributions he said came from Floridians. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted July 17, 2018 at 9:39am

Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ campaign  is being accused of inflating the percentage of campaign contributions he’s touting as from Floridians.

In a news release, Bilirakis said almost 90 percent of support he received during the second quarter, from April through June, came from Floridians.

But an analysis by the Tampa Bay Times found that of the $355,000, Bilirakis raised only 62 percent from individuals and the rest came from political action committees — almost all of them out of state.

Bilirakis’ campaign manager Towson Fraser said he “made a mistake during the editing process” and meant to say that 90 percent of individual contributions came from Floridians.

But of those of individual donors who gave more than $200, which candidates are required to report, only 77 percent were Floridians.

Fraser said the number of donors who gave less than $200 made the number 90 percent but did not share the data with the newspaper.

Bilirakis has been criticized for receiving $79,000 from the pharmaceutical industry in 2016.

At the same time, Bilirakis co-sponsored legislation that made it harder for the Drug Enforcement Administration to target drug companies that distribute large amounts of pills to doctors and pharmacies.

Bilirakis’ leading Democratic challenger Chris Hunter said Bilrakis was doing “the bidding of the opioid industry lobbyists who give him campaign money” is what motivated him to quit his job as a fraud prosecutor with the Department of Justice and challenge the incumbent.

Inside Elections With Nathan L. Gonzales rates Florida’s 12th Congressional District race Solid Republican.

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