Gov. Rick Scott’s top donor to his 2014 reelection campaign says he won’t give any money to politicians who don’t support “common sense, life-saving positions” on guns.
“I will not give one cent to anyone who does not support major change regarding military-type weapons being sold,” said Mike Fernandez, chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners.
Fernandez made his pledge to WLRN-Miami Herald before Scott and Florida legislative leaders announced their proposals in response to the mass shooting Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Seventeen students and faculty members were killed and 15 were injured.
Fernandez was the top donor to Scott’s 2014 campaign after the governor himself. He and the companies he controls gave at least $1.3 million to the Scott campaign or the political action committee supporting it. Fernandez gave thousands more to the Florida Republican Party and state GOP lawmakers, many of them from South Florida.
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Fernandez, who is an NRA member but doesn’t plan to renew, also voiced support for raising the age limit to buy rifles and limiting magazine capacity. “It’s impossible not to be touched by what happened and moved into action,” he said.
It is the second mega Republican political donor from the region to link future contributions to gun measures. North Palm Beach real estate development Al Hoffman, Jr. sent an email to top Republicans declaring, “I will not write another check unless they all support a ban on assault weapons,” according to the New York Times.
“Those of us who are active in the political system,” said Fernandez, “have an obligation to use the tools we have, and the tool that we have that they understand the most is money. They have to understand that if they’re going to act in response to the very few, such as the NRA and their outdated position, they are not going to get a penny from me.”
After years of inaction regarding gun restrictions, the Florida Legislature seems poised to consider a package of reforms including raising the minimum purchase age for all guns to 21. Currently, only handgun buyers in Florida need to be 21 or older. Both Scott and top Republican lawmakers have voiced support.
Fernandez has been a reliable and deep-pocketed supporter of Republicans. He contributed $3 million to the political action committee supporting former Gov. Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign. But as Donald Trump gained support during the campaign, Fernandez broke with the GOP over its immigration policies. He donated thousands of dollars to state Democratic parties in at least 10 states, according to federal election contribution records.
He said he registered as an independent after the 2016 election.
The entire interview can be heard here at WLRN.org.