TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Democratic candidates in the state are now facing attack ads from their Republican opponents, accusing their campaigns of receiving funds from a pandemic assistance loan meant for small businesses.
The loan was secured by the Florida Democratic Party earlier this year, but the candidates facing the attacks call them misleading and untrue.
You may have received a mailer or even seen a TV spot, accusing a local candidate of receiving funds from a $780,000 PPP loan secured by the Democratic Party in May.
One television spot is targeting Democratic State Senate candidate Loranne Ausley.
“They took those dollars, funneled them to a committee and then gave them to their candidates,” said Evan Power, Chair of the Republican Party of Leon County.
Ausley is one of three candidates targeted. She called the ads a distraction.
“People are really hurting and they want us to talk about how we’re going to solve those problems,” said Ausley.
A public financial report released in August shows the Democratic Party of Florida paid back the initial loan, with interest.
“All of the candidates that are being brought into this have condemned the party for taking the funds and with everyone we demanded that return the money. The money has been returned,” said Ausley.
All of the targeted candidates deny any of the money reached their campaign accounts, but Republicans argue there’s no way to prove it one way or the other.
“They benefited from taking that million dollars of taxpayer money that was meant to save jobs and distributed it out and took a benefit at the time that they sent it out,” said Power.
According to the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida’s financial reports, the party received more than $815,000 in CARES Act loans in total.
The payment it made in August still leaves almost $34,000 that has not been paid back, but Mark Herron, an attorney representing the Party told us the outstanding balance is an error.
“I’ve been informed that an amendment has been filed to correct the error and we anticipate it will post later today,” said Herron in an e-mail Thursday afternoon.