The challengers in two Seminole County Commission primaries are drawing an infusion of cash from the owner of the land at the center of a controversial development — as well as support from a group of mysterious political action committees.

Former WWE wrestler and Longwood Mayor Matt Morgan, who is challenging incumbent Bob Dallari in the Republican primary for the county’s District 1 seat has taken in $6,000 from real estate firms led by Kenneth Clayton.

The same companies also gave $6,000 in $1,000 increments to Longwood Commissioner Ben Paris, who is vying to unseat incumbent Republican Lee Constantine in the District 3 primary.

The Clayton family has long owned the Hi-Oaks Ranch, 669-acres of former pastureland and old citrus groves east of the Econlockhatchee River and north of the Orange County line, that was proposed as the site for a mega development known as River Cross. Kenneth Clayton did not return calls for comment.

At the same time, a political committee is paying for advertisements attacking Constantine. And records show that the committee is run by the same Florida political operatives who run another committee that recently received $100,000 from a company owned by the developer of River Cross: Lobbyist and former legislator Chris Dorworth.

Paris, who could not be reached for comment for this story, recently said he supports the rural boundary and that he would have voted against the River Cross project “as it was presented” in 2018.

And yet another Tallahassee committee led by Jones – Greater Florida Foundation – received a $100,000 check on July 9 from CED Strategies, a Lake Mary real-estate firm owned by Dorworth. Though it wasn’t clear how the money was spent and the contributions to Morgan’s campaign came through different committees.

Orlando Sentinel

Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Assoc

The CFHLA PAC/PC Board of Directors proudly endorses “Pro-Hospitality” candidates for the upcoming 2020 election cycle.

Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association Endorses Lee Constantine for Seminole County Commission, District 3

CFHLA 2020 Voting Guide for the August 18 Primary Election

The August 18th Primary Election is just a few short weeks away. Visit the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections website to request your Absentee Ballot and VOTE for Lee Constantine for Seminole County Commission, District 3!

Dirty Election Money

Voters constantly complain about dirty elections – and they should. The overwhelming perpetrators of this evil are the Dark Money, hidden contributor Political Committees that, unlike candidates, have no contribution limit and can conceal donors from the public. These committees shuffle money from one to another, attack candidates with lies & innuendos and hide behind pretty-sounding names like “Sunshine State Forever.” I, and many other candidates, have felt the sting of these shameful tactics. While in the Legislature, I pushed to make the process more transparent but was opposed by both political parties. Voters should be aware of this insidious practice and reject their hidden motives.

Lee Constantine Statement on Supporting the 2nd Amendment

Rest assured, the 2nd Amendment is in good hands in Seminole County. The Seminole County Commission passed a resolution to support the 2nd Amendment and I will continue to stand by this resolution 100% (Commitment to support the Second Amendment Resolution | Seminole County). I wholeheartedly support the 2nd Amendment!

Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board Endorses Lee Constantine For Seminole County Commission, District 3

Constantine in District 3

The argument for Republicans to select incumbent Lee Constantine is much the same as the argument for Dallari. If anything Constantine was even more outspoken in his opposition to River Cross and his defense of the voters will to keep eastern Seminole County rural.

Constantine’s passion for land preservation is consistent with his long record of advocating for environmental protection. He’s been on the front lines for years in trying to protect Seminole’s waterways, including his early support for rules to stop fertilizer from polluting waterways.

Like Dallari, he’s supported policies that have made Seminole County a place where people want to live, not a place to avoid.

The two also supported the county’s decision — a wise but difficult decision — to require that residents wear face coverings in public places to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Constantine’s opponent isn’t so sure. Ben Paris, a Longwood city commissioner who seems well versed on some of the issues, says there should have been more public input, raising the possibility of more delays and more community spread.

Paris said he would have voted against the River Cross project “as presented” but begged off committing to how he would have voted on the land swap, saying he didn’t have much information on it. That’s quite a statement, considering how much information was available and how passionately Seminole residents felt about it. He either wasn’t paying attention or didn’t want to answer the question.

Republican voters have zero reason to doubt where Constantine comes down on protecting the rural zone, and whose side he’s on. They should pick him as their candidate to run in the fall.

Orlando Sentinel Endorses Lee Constantine for Seminole County Commission, District 3