But the costs to the state have been adding up.
FDLE has spent about $37,000 in overtime for police officers at the Capitol, Plessinger said. And the FDLE’s Tallahassee regional operational office has spent an additional $5,000 in management costs.
The Dream Defenders have themselves had a few hiccups.
On Monday, the group received a letter from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services saying they had not filed the necessary paperwork to solicit cash and in-kind donations, and may be facing fines.
They submitted the application Tuesday, Dream Defenders legal and policy director Ahmad Abuznaid said.
The group has also had to deflect allegations that they are pursuing a union-driven agenda.
The property services workers’ union SEIU 32BJ pays Agnew a $29,000 salary to run the Dream Defenders. And Pendas was on the union payroll for several months last year.
But both deny that the union created the Dream Defenders, or has any control over the group’s mission or policies.
“To say that some union is masterminding us is an insult,” Agnew said. “Give a little more credit to the youth of Florida.”
Eric Brakken, the union’s leader in Florida, said the Dream Defenders are independent. “We are involved in all sorts of organizations to lift up the aspirations of people in Florida,” he said.
Agnew said his group has not received any donations from labor unions — or any other political organizations.
“Since we started, our budget has basically been zero,” Agnew said, noting that all of the other young staff members are volunteers, and most of the in-kind donations have come from individuals and local churches.
Agnew said the week had been a learning experience for the year-old organization.
“People can try to bring us down,” he said. “But we’re not going anywhere.”
Kathleen McGrory can be reached at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.