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FMA Pours $300K into 'Better Florida' Committee

The Florida Medical Association, a powerful doctors' lobby, funneled $300,000 this month into a political committee that has run attack ads in at least one closely contested legislative race, according to campaign-finance reports. The Florida Medical Association Political Action Committee contributed the money July 14 to another committee known as the "Better Florida Fund Corp."

In February, the FMA also put $1.25 million into the Better Florida Fund Corp. That committee began running ads this month criticizing Sarasota County Republican Richard DeNapoli, who is in a tight race in House District 74 against fellow Republican Julio Gonzalez, who is a doctor. They are competing to replace term-limited Rep. Doug Holder, R-Venice.

The Better Florida Fund Corp. sent a memo to reporters July 18 about its ad criticizing DeNapoli as a "Charlie Crist Republican." DeNapoli told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune he contributed money to Crist in 2009 when Crist was a Republican running for the U.S. Senate. He told the newspaper he stopped supporting Crist after the former governor left the GOP in 2010. DeNapoli said he then backed Republican Marco Rubio, who ultimately won the Senate race. The Better Florida Fund Corp. reported paying $81,075 on July 17 to the Virginia-based Smart Media Group LLC, the reports show.


Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, filed a bill Tuesday that would lead to the state paying $1.8 million to the parents of Devaughn Darling, a Florida State University football player who collapsed and died during preseason training in 2001. The parents, Wendy Smith and Dennis Darling, Sr., reached a $2 million settlement with the university. But the state's sovereign immunity laws limited payment to $200,000 without approval from the Legislature to pay the full amount.

Joyner's claim bill (SB 38), which will be considered during the 2015 legislative session, would direct payment of the remaining $1.8 million. Similar claim bills stemming from the Darling death have failed to pass the Legislature in recent years. Senators began filing claim bills last week for the 2015 session.


Pointing to more customers and the state's economic growth, Florida Power & Light had an increase in second-quarter income compared to last year, according to an earnings report released Tuesday. FPL, the state's largest electric utility, reported net income of $423 million, or 96 cents a share, compared to $391 million, or 92 cents a share, during the second quarter of 2013.

FPL said it averaged 91,000 more customer accounts this year than during the same period in 2013 and pointed to improvement in Florida's economy. Meanwhile, FPL's parent company, NextEra Energy, Inc., reported second-quarter adjusted earnings of $630 million, or $1.43 a share, compared with $620 million, or $1.46 a share, during the second quarter of 2013.

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