The earliest donors to Republican Jeb Bush’s pre-presidential campaign machine include prominent Florida politicians, the state’s chamber of commerce and even a labor union, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of Florida campaign finance filings.
Together, these Sunshine State lawmakers and special interests have donated nearly $250,000 to a controversial super PAC that Bush, a former Florida governor, controlled prior to his formal presidential announcement on Monday.
The pro-Bush Right to Rise super PAC has not yet filed reports with the Federal Election Commission detailing its funders, and it won’t until next month.
The state campaign finance disclosures reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity offer a preview, however limited, of who in a crowded presidential election field has already committed cash to Team Jeb.
Among the most generous Florida-based political groups already backing Bush: The Committee for a Stronger Florida, which is associated with former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford.
To date, it has given $75,000 to Bush’s Right to Rise super PAC. Weatherford has praised Bush for having “one of the most successful records as governor of anybody I've ever seen.”
In February, Weatherford was also among the hosts of a fundraiser for the Right to Rise super PAC staged at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa, Florida, according to a copy of an invitation obtained by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for government transparency.
Weatherford’s Committee for a Stronger Florida, in turn, has collected most of its money since its inception last July from the Florida Republican Party.