By Steve Miller
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Success makes it easier to take a kick in the side, even from those you help.
Gov. Rick Scott in June signed legislation thwarting a lucrative construction project being handled by road developer Joe Anderson, who owns the Anderson Columbia construction firm.
But that didn’t stop Anderson from shipping still more campaign money Scott’s way, according to a story in the St. Augustine Record:
On June 6, Scott signed legislation, which including language putting the brakes on a St. Johns County housing development planned by Anderson. Later that month, Anderson wrote Let’s Get to Work, the Scott-aligned committee, a $100,000 check. The road building company he owns, Anderson Columbia, wrote a second $100,000 check the same day.
Anderson gave a separate $16,666 on March 5, the opening day of the legislative session.
Anderson’s Republican fealty is staunch. His company has donated $477,562 in political funds, mostly to the GOP side, since 1996, the story notes.
Anderson Columbia has held dozens of state contracts over the past decade, the first in 2004, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, state records show. Kick in the $9,000 training grant in 2010 — target result: two jobs — and Florida has been very good to Anderson and vice versa.
The back story to the lost development is legislation passed last year that allowed Anderson to develop 607 acres he owns in St. Johns County. There was some political maneuvering by Anderson Columbia, via its lobbyist, to get the path cleared to develop the rural acreage. It worked, and Anderson was on its way to another development thanks to a legislative amendment.
This session, the legislation was repealed:
“This amendment was put on a bill during the last hour of the last day last year that my county has objected to,” Thrasher said in April before the full Senate passed the amendment. “I’m asking you to restart the thing and start over again, so my county can have some control over these projects.”
The St. Augustine Record reported in March that Thrasher’s office was given documents explaining the new language before a final Senate vote. He said his staff never showed him the information.
“On the last day, last night, particularly when you are Rules chairman, I’m not covering for myself, but I have a lot on my plate,” Thrasher said in March.
Senate analysts said the Anderson-specific language could be “unconstitutional” because it’s being applied retroactively.