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Rick Scott PAC’s Massive Fundraising Haul Gets a Controversial Assist

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has built a behemoth fundraising operation in his bid to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), including the backing of a super PAC, New Republican PAC, that reported more than $7 million in contributions in the second quarter.

But two contributions in the PAC’s latest quarterly fundraising report could cause more headaches than they’re worth. They reveal financial support for Scott’s Senate bid by a doctor and former health executive with a long and controversial history, involving allegations of kickbacks, financial conflicts of interest, and tens of millions of dollars in settlements with the U.S. Justice Department.

The May 8 contributions came from Theriac Management Associates LLC, which donated $60,000, and TEM LLC, which chipped in $10,000. State incorporation records list Daniel Dosoretz as an executive of both companies. Dosoretz is the former chairman and CEO of 21st Century Oncology, a Fort Myers, Florida, company that emerged from bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

Dosoretz was a key player in whistleblower allegations brought by the former chairman of Broward Health, a state public health system. That whistleblower, David DiPietro, alleged that Billy Rubin, a lobbyist close to Scott, used a series of threats and kickbacks in an attempt to steer state money to 21st Century Oncology. As part of the scheme, DiPietro alleged, Dosoretz put political pressure on a Broward Health executive and “bragged” about his “close friendship” with Scott. On another occasion, DiPietro claimed, Rubin invoked Dosoretz’s financial support for Scott, suggesting that his campaign contributions would be useful in securing business for 21st Century Oncology. In the months before a multibillion-dollar contract at the center of the allegations was awarded to the company, 21st Century Oncology “orchestrated payments to Governor Scott’s campaign, inauguration, and Let’s Get to Work Committee in excess of $400,000,” DiPietro alleged.

At the time that contract was awarded, Scott had a stake—by way of a blind trust—in investment partnerships run by a private-equity firm that owned 21st Century Oncology.

DiPietro’s “qui tam” whistleblower complaint, filed on behalf of the federal government, was stayed when 21st Century Oncology filed for bankruptcy in 2017. It has not resumed since then. A bankruptcy-court judge subsequently threw out DiPietro’s efforts to persist in his False Claims Act and anti-kickback statute claims, saying he hadn’t marshalled sufficient evidence for the charges in the context of bankruptcy proceedings.

But DiPietro’s allegations weren’t the only charges levied against the company. In December, 21st Century Oncology paid $26 million to settle False Claims Act allegations and charges of illegal kickbacks stemming from illicit financial relationships with doctors that referred patients to the company. On the same day, it paid a $2.3 million fine over a 2015 data breach that affected more than two million patients. In 2015 and 2016, the company paid $54 million to settle claims related to its billing of federal health-care programs for medically unnecessary procedures.

Those settlements and legal costs contributed to the financial woes that drove 21st Century Oncology into bankruptcy protection. Dosoretz resigned from the company’s board in early 2017, but his support for Scott’s political endeavors has persisted.

And he’s not the only New Republican PAC donor to draw scrutiny for his financial relationship with Scott. Other contributors include a pair of companies that received more than $250 million in investment commitments from Florida’s state pension fund.

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The Ohio Office at the Center of a Dark Money Machine

Voters in Ohio have been treated to a host of political mailers of late in contentious elections for the state’s house of representatives. One group that has been particularly aggressive, Growth & Opportunity PAC (GOPAC), just filed a quarterly financial report that raises a host of new questions about its financial backers.

GOPAC, which had previously reported just $5,000 in donations, disclosed a whopping $1 million in contributions from a dark money group called Generation Now Inc. It spent that money on ads and mailers in a handful of statehouse contests, according to its Federal Election Commission filing.

There’s little public information about Generation Now. But its address is a Columbus office space owned by a political advertising and public-affairs firm called the Strategy Group Company.

That firm has also been hired by a number of Ohio statehouse candidates, and at least nine of its clients are running in races where GOPAC has gotten involved. Rex Elsass, the Strategy Group’s chief executive, told PAY DIRT that his company sublets the office space that Generation Now lists as its address. At first, he said that their tenant was Larry Householder, an Ohio state representative and the statehouse’s former speaker. Elsass quickly called back to correct himself, and clarify that Generation Now, not Householder, is the leasee.

Generation Now’s website reveals little about its backers. But the group has pushed heavily for state legislation, co-sponsored by Householder, to bail out two struggling nuclear power plants run by Ohio utility FirstEnergy. FirstEnergy itself has donated to more than a dozen statehouse candidates who’ve either received support from, or whose opponents have been attacked by, GOPAC.

It wouldn’t be the first time FirstEnergy has been linked, at least on paper, with dark money-backed politicking in the state. A lobbyist for the utility, Marc Himmelstein, runs a dark money group that has also jumped into an Ohio statehouse contest on behalf of a candidate to whom FirstEnergy and a number of its executives have donated.

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Who’s Behind This Six-Figure Donation to a Leading Trump PAC?

We end today’s edition with a mystery. Leading pro-Trump super PAC America First Action disclosed nearly $5 million in second-quarter contributions this week. Among its donors was a company called Global Energy Producers LLC (GEP). It donated $375,000 in May, putting the company among the deep-pocketed group’s top 20 donors. But there’s very little indication of what the company does or who’s behind it.

It appears that GEP was incorporated in April in Delaware, a notorious black hole for corporate disclosure. But FEC filings listed its address as a Boca Raton, Florida, property owned by someone named Victor Imber. The FEC has no record of the Russian-born Imber or GEP making any previous federal political contributions. Additional public records indicate that Imber may have rented the property to someone named Michael Braid, who likewise has no other apparent connections to the company or history of political contributions. Braid did not respond to questions about GEP. Numerous calls to Imber went unanswered.

A company by the same name did donate $50,000 in June to a PAC supporting the Florida gubernatorial campaign of GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis. But that disclosure listed a different address in Woodmere, New York.

Around the time of GEP’s formation, someone hailing from Woodmere solicited logo and website designs for the company on the website Design Contest. That user said GEP “was founded by a group of business leaders, representing several complimentary [sic] industries.” The company’s goal, the user added, “is to capitalize on opportunities around the world by leveraging both domestic and international relationships. We are a United States based company transacting in LNG, oil and gas and solar energy energy, amongst others.”

That’s all we know about the company at the moment. If you have a lead or suggestions for additional digging, please drop me an email at lachlan.markay@thedailybeast.com.

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