Updated Jan. 2, at 12:45 pm EDT
A super-political action committee in Florida Rep. Trey Radel’s district raised more than $1 million this month from two donors who backed a Radel rival in the 2012 election.
The super-PAC, Values are Vital, received $525,000 from Miami retiree Ronald Firman and $485,000 from Las Vegas lawyer Martin Burns, it said in a filing to the Federal Election Commission today. Super-PACs may raise donations in unlimited amounts to independently aid or oppose federal candidates.
Firman, who’s also the PAC’s treasurer, and Burns both donated to the 2012 campaign of then-state Rep. Paige Kreegel, who finished third in a Republican primary won by Radel ahead of an easy general election win in the strongly Republican-leaning 19th District, which includes Cape Coral and Fort Myers.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the super-PAC, which was created late last month and has a Cape Coral mailing address, was organized to oppose Radel or back Kreegel if the congressman seeks a second term in 2014 after his arrest and subsequent guilty plea for cocaine possession last month. Political Capital’s repeated e-mails to the Values are Vital super-PAC have not been returned.
Kreegel is thinking about challenging Radel, the Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo reported last month.
Former Rep. Connie Mack, who represented the area from 2005 through an unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2012, also is weighing a comeback. Mack — actually Cornelius McGillicuddy IV — is the son of the former Sen. Connie Mack (III) and great grandson of the baseball icon of Philadelphia Athletics fame by the same name.
Radel said Nov. 19 that he was “profoundly sorry” for his behavior and would seek treatment and counseling. He has taken a leave of absence from Congress and last cast a floor vote on Nov. 15, according to Bloomberg Government data. The House Ethics Committee has initiated an investigation into Radel’s conduct, Bloomberg’s Caitlin Webber reported Dec. 16.
The 2014 primary election is scheduled for Aug. 26.
Anthony Farhat, a southwest Florida builder and developer who is chairman of the super-PAC, told Political Capital he doesn’t want to see someone who “hasn’t been properly vetted step into the seat.”
“I don’t want to see us make the same mistake twice,” Farhat said in a telephone interview.
Like Firman and Burns, Farhat donated to Kreegel’s 2012 campaign. Yet the PAC wasn’t organized explicitly to promote a Kreegel campaign, Farhat said.
“It is not identified as that,” Farhat said, adding that “I’m a Kreegel fan, and certainly people in local politics in this district are well aware that I’m a Kreegel fan.” Farhat said Kreegel is a longtime family friend and personal physician.
“What we’re going to do is just raise money, and as people get into the race, we’ll take a look at who they are and what their positions are,” Farhat said.