A Herald/Times analysis found more than $1.4 million went into legislative coffers from 78 people or companies linked to Allied Veterans of the World between 2008-2012.
Shamed by taking vast amounts of cash from what police now say was a fake charity, many legislators have been scrambling to return it.
Lenny Curry, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, announced the party would donate $300,000 to a state-run veteran’s group, even though the party received a total of $533,830 from Allied Veterans groups, according to the Herald/Times analysis.
The Florida Democratic Party, which received $244,000 from the groups over the same time period plans to donate the funds to a veterans charity but has not announced further details, according to party spokeswoman Brannon Jordan.
Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Coral Gables, who led the Senate charge last year to regulate the industry but not ban them, was among the top lawmakers to receive contributions from Allied Veterans. He and his Committee of Continuous Existence received $69,500 from Allied Veterans affiliates, the analysis found. He said he had counted only $15,000 “but the total contribution makes no difference.”
Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, got $25,000 through his Florida Conservative Action Committee. He said he plans to raise the same amount and contribute the money to the Wounded Warriors Project. “If these allegations are proven, what concerns me greatly is that [Allied Veterans ] may have exploited veterans,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Herald/Times.
Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, a former marine, received $17,500 from his individual campaign and political committee accounts. He said his campaign account is closed, so he will not donate the money, but he considers himself among the victims. “My fellow Veterans and Legislators did not know of the illegal activities perpetuated by these companies and therefore are victims,’’ he said.
Artiles said he “will be donating and sponsoring several Veterans events throughout my district in the upcoming weeks and months amounting to more than what was donated to both the CCE and campaign.”
Waldman, the most vocal opponent, received $2,500 from the groups.