This Florida lawmaker’s political committee worth $700K basically went into hibernation

A political committee chaired by a retiring Republican Senator in April reported nearly $700,000 in cash on hand. Then it effectively went into hibernation. As a challenging atmosphere awaits many candidates in November, there’s growing irritation at resources that can’t be reached.

Protect Florida Families Fund, formed in February 2019 and chaired by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, raised more than $854,000 — before sending a disbandment letter to the Division of Elections. A short message from PAC Financial Management in March asked the state to “cancel the political committee registration” for the relatively young committee. State records now list the committee’s status as “closed.”

When the last financial reports were filed showing activity through March, it had $696,617 in the bank.

IRS records show the legal entity lives on. Its activity, however, can no longer be tracked using Division of Elections transparency tools. Campaign finance experts say as long as the committee doesn’t spend money influencing elections anytime soon, it’s fine for cash to just sit there, with no further accounting to Florida election officials.

Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican, did not returns calls regarding the fund. Committee Treasurer Noreen Fenner declined to comment.

But the

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