Campaign reports indicate that donations made to the 2016 Rocky Hanna for Superintendent campaign included sixty-five $1,000 donations from businesses and individuals with addresses in Nevada and the Atlanta, Georgia area.
Of the sixty-five $1,000 donations, fifty-one were from corporate entities and fourteen were from individuals. Ten of these individuals appear to be employed by the corporate entities that donated to the Hanna campaign.
In addition, Tallahassee Reports discovered that one address -Five Concourse Pkwy, Suite 300, Atlanta, GA 30328 – was listed for twenty-six of the $1,000 donations tied to eighteen different companies that donated during the primary and general election cycles. Listed below are the eighteen LLC’s.
During the campaign, Hanna raised approximately $300,000. This means approximately 20% of the money raised came from Las Vegas and the Atlanta area.
Why is this finding newsworthy now?
First, there was very little media coverage of these donations during the 2016 campaign.
A report by the Tallahassee Democrat in 2015, which was focused on donations by vendors in the 2016 superintendent race, downplayed the Hanna donations as “primarily Georgia-based relatives and corporate entities. Little if any of the money came from vendors.”
However, the majority of the donations appear to be tied to one relative, Hanna’s brother, Darrell Hanna, who resides in Atlanta. TR is still investigating the owners of the corporate entities and the relationship between the individual donors and Rocky Hanna.
Second, several media outlets have reported that the use of LLC’s for campaign donations is a legal way to avoid limits on contributions. Campaign laws limit the amount individuals can donate to the superintendent race to $1,000.
Tallahassee Reports first wrote about local campaign donations coming from a web of LLC’s in 2014 in an article looking at top local campaign donors. The analysis revealed that the 311 E. Jennings Street address was listed for 75 separate donations by over 20 different businesses and one individual. The donations totaled $24,250. The principals listed for the businesses were J.T. Burnette and Kim Rivers.
Three years later, in 2017, after the federal investigation into local government corruption was revealed, the Tallahassee Democrat did a report on the donations coming from 311 E. Jennings Street.
The Democrat article stated that “while the activity raises eyebrows among election officials, it appears to be legal under Florida law. But campaign finance experts say it’s an example of individuals taking advantage of what they call ‘the LLC loophole.’ “
Ben Wilcox of Integrity Florida says the LLC loophole is a “form of bundling” which shows a “determined effort to evade” contribution limits.
And third, Tallahassee Reports has recently reported that some of the same Las Vegas and Atlanta area companies were involved in the Andrew Gillum campaign for governor.
TR has reached out to specific donors in the Atlanta area seeking comment about the donations, but have yet to receive any responses.
TR is also investigating donations from the Las Vegas and Atlanta area companies to other local campaigns.
Check back for updates.