Outsiders and GOP influence (fund) Miami-Dade School Board races

If there was any doubt that Monica Colucci was a Republican Party plant in the Miami-Dade School Board race against Marta Perez, there isn’t any now that she’s filed several campaign finance reports.

Colucci reported raising $104,362 through July 1– not a bad figure for a newbie. But a closer look at the funding finds that at least $20,000 came from lobbyist and political consultants. Another $30,000 came from no fewer than 30 different political action committees that seem to have nothing to do with Miami-Dade K-12 education.

Jobs and Prosperity for Florida. Conservatives for a Better Florida. A Better Hialeah. Friends of Matt Caldwell. Wait, who? Matt Caldwell was a Republican state rep who is now serving as the property appraiser in Lee County. Ladra googled him. And it’s pretty obvious that this contribution, at the very least, was directed by someone else, not Caldwell’s friends.

Then there’s the mailer that went out last week, with photos of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, future House Speaker Daniel Perez and other top shelf Republican lawmakers. The message: Colucci’s values align with theirs.

“Respected leaders support Monica Colucci,” it says on the back side. “The true conservative candidate in the District 8 race,” it says on the front, where there is also a DeSantis message.

Read related: Three more Miami-Dade School Board candidates come out to play in 2022

“We need strong school board members who will set Florida’s children up for success, ensure parental rights in educaiton and combat the woke agendas from infiltrating public schools at the local school board level, and I know these candidats will do just that, and I proudly endorse them for their school board seats,” DeSantis is quoted as saying.

These candidates? Endorse them? School board seats?

This faux pas proves that, as Political Cortadito reported earlier this year, DeSantis and his team wanted to unseat three Miami-Dade School Board members because they did not defend him during his fight to keep masks out of the classroom. Guns are okay, but face masks are a no-no. The three: Perez, Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman and Mari Tere Rojas.

Tabares Hantman gave them a win early when she retired rather than face a challenge from a well-funded Roberto Alonso, who has some of the same PACs — though not as many — donating to his campaign. Like Advancing Florida’s Agriculture.

School Board Members Perla Tabares Hantman, Marta Perez and Mari Tere Rojas.

Alonso has reported raising $93,017, including donations from former State Reps. Jose Oliva and Eddy Gonzalez, to use against the two other candidates in that district race: Maribel Balbin, who has reported raising $18,210, and Kevin Menendez Macki, who raised $22,945

And Oliva’s political hitman, David “Disgustin Custin” is the political consultant for both Alonso and Colucci.

Read related: Miami-Dade School Board Member Mari Tere Rojas draws a challenge

But it looks like the DeSantis team has abandoned Sandra Manzieri, the candidate they put up to run against Rojas. Las malas lenguas say they don’t want to upset Congressman Carlos Gimenez, who is Rojas’ brother-in-law. That’s why she has only reported raising $12,365, mostly in small donations from real people.

It will be hard to compete against Rojas and her $177,521 raised so far. She’s also raised another $20K for her It’s All About the Kids PAC since her last run in 2018.

Perez, for her part, has raised the most of any school board candidate, with $217,805 so far. And there’s a vast untapped market that this Republican veteran politician may have already thought of: Democrats.