Non-profit

Floridians for a Fair Shake

Website:

www.flfairshake.org

Location:

Washington, DC

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Type:

Left-Wing Advocacy Coalition

Communications Director:

Stephen Gaskill

Formation:

2018

Floridians for a Fair Shake is a Florida-focused project of the left-of-center “dark money” organization Sixteen Thirty Fund,[1] a lobbying and electoral-advocacy group within the $600 million Arabella Advisors network. [2]

In 2018, Floridians for a Fair Shake invested over a million dollars against the elections of U.S. Representatives Vernon Buchanan (R-FL) and Brian Mast (R-FL). [3] Its leadership includes communications director Stephen Gaskill,[4] a Democratic activist and president of the Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucus. [5]

Background

Floridians for a Fair Shake is a member of a coalition of 48 similar state-based political organizations. Politico has described the naming nomenclature strategy as “benign.” The groups invest millions of dollars in advertising to influence Republican politicians’ positions against President Trump’s initiatives. These issues have mostly centered on healthcare and taxes. [6]

Floridians for a Fair Shake affiliates include Arizonans United for Health Care, Colorado United for Families, Healthcare Voters of Nevada, Keep Iowa Healthy, Mainers Against Health Care Cuts, Michigan Families for Economic Prosperity, New Jersey for a Better Future, North Carolinians for a Fair Economy, Ohioans for Economic Opportunity, SoCal Health Care Coalition, and Speak Out CNY. [7]

Organization

Floridians for a Fair Shake is at the bottom of a multi-tier hierarchical organization with many branches. The New York Times placed it directly under the Hub Project, run by former Obama administration officials and part of the Sixteen Thirty Fund. [8]

Political Advocacy

In the 2018 mid-term elections Floridians for a Fair Shake opposed Republican U.S. Representatives from Florida Vern Buchanan and Brian Mast. It invested $603,718 on an advertisement criticizing Buchanan for his support for President Trump’s tax cut. The group spent money on tactics like banners flown above crowded Fourth of July beaches attacking Buchanan. It advertised a claim that President Trump’s tax policy would cost Americans money. The Herald-Tribune countered with disputing evidence from the Tax Policy Center. Floridians for a Fair Shake co-hosted a health care town hall with Florida Planned Parenthood Alliance. [9]

Floridians for a Fair Shake illustrated Buchanan’s support for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as benefitting only the wealthy by creating a website called vernsyacht.com and offering a $500 reward for a photo of Vern Buchanan’s yacht. [10] It deployed a billboard campaign showing an image of Buchanan wearing a ship captain’s hat. [11]

Stephen Gaskill alleged that Buchanan’s vote to repeal Obamacare eliminated 7.8 million Floridians’ (of whom 273,000 live in his district) pre-existing insurance coverage,. [12]

Floridians for a Fair Shake invested $100,000 in an ad targeting Representative Brian Mast for supporting the repeal of Obamacare. [13]

Leadership

Stephen Gaskill is the communications director for Floridians for a Fair Shake and has an extensive background working with Democrats. His experience includes employment within the Clinton administration for both terms at the U.S. Department of Labor. Gaskill served in the presidential campaigns of John Kerry, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton. The Gore and Kerry families hired him as a spokesperson and advisor. He helped create the Florida LGBT Democratic Caucus. [14] He was the spokesperson for Florida Red and Blue, formed to defeat Amendment 2 of 2008, which would have barred Florida from recognizing same-sex marriages. [15] Gaskill is the President of the Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucus and endorsed former Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg. [16] He seeks to stimulate LGBT support for former Vice-President Joe Biden. [17]

Maxwell Frost was the main coordinator for Floridians for a Fair Shake against Vern Buchanan. Frost has a long history of Democratic activism including serving as the field director for Florida State Representative Margaret Good (D-Sarasota). [18] He is the national organizing director for the gun control organization March for Our Lives, and was the national advance manager for the Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, an organizing specialist for the ACLU, a deputy state director for MoveOn.org, and a field organizer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. [19]

Bill Sauers is an advisor to Floridians for a Fair Shake and the president of the left-of-center Florida Alliance of Retired Americans. [20]

Other Floridians for a Fair Shake organizers include Willa Tinsley, Mollie Saumier, and Nancy Rose Spector. [21]

References

  1. Massoglia, Anna. “Millions in Masked Money Funneled into 2018 Elections.” OpenSecrets News, December 18, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2018/11/millions-in-masked-money-funneled-into-2018-elections/.   ^
  2. Krayden, David. “Report Warns Of ‘Dark Money’ Funding a Grab Bag Of Liberal Causes.” Capital Research Center. Capital Research Center, April 18, 2019. https://capitalresearch.org/article/report-warns-of-dark-money-funding-a-grab-bag-of-libreal-causes/.   ^
  3. Bland, Scott, Sarah Frostenson, and Alex Isenstadt. “Liberal Secret-Money Network Hammers House GOP.” POLITICO, July 29, 2018. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/29/democrats-dark-money-midterms-house-745145.[/note] It campaigned for the continuation of Obamacare and opposed the passage of President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. [note]Anderson, Zac. “Political Insider: Shadowy Group Targeting Vern Buchanan.” Tribune. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 8, 2018. https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180707/political-insider-shadowy-group-targeting-vern-buchanan. ^
  4. Wilson, Kirby. “WANTED: A Photo of This GOP Congressman’s Yacht (REWARD: $500).” Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay Times, August 8, 2018. https://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/08/08/wanted-a-photo-of-this-gop-congressmans-yacht-reward-500/.     ^
  5. Nicol, Ryan. “LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus President Stephen Gaskill Endorses Pete Buttigieg for President.” Florida Politics – Campaigns & Elections. Lobbying & Government., January 14, 2020. https://floridapolitics.com/archives/315803-gaskill-endorses-buttigieg-president. ^
  6. [1] Bland, Scott, and Maggie Severns. “Documents Reveal Massive ‘Dark-Money’ Group Boosted Democrats in 2018.” POLITICO. POLITICO, November 20, 2019. https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/19/dark-money-democrats-midterm-071725. ^
  7. Bland, Scott, Sarah Frostenson, and Alex Isenstadt. “Liberal Secret-Money Network Hammers House GOP.” POLITICO, July 29, 2018. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/29/democrats-dark-money-midterms-house-745145.   ^
  8. Burns, Alexander. “With $30 Million, Obscure Democratic Group Floods the Zone in House Races.” The New York Times. The New York Times, October 31, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/31/us/politics/democrats-dark-money-midterms.html?auth=-google1tap.[/note] Stephen Gaskill has said the majority of its funding comes from the left-of-center Protect Our Care, also under the Sixteen Thirty Fund. [note]Anderson, Zac. “Political Insider: Shadowy Group Targeting Vern Buchanan.” Tribune. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 8, 2018. https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180707/political-insider-shadowy-group-targeting-vern-buchanan. ^
  9. Anderson, Zac. “Political Insider: Shadowy Group Targeting Vern Buchanan.” Tribune. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 8, 2018. https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180707/political-insider-shadowy-group-targeting-vern-buchanan. ^
  10. Wilson, Kirby. “WANTED: A Photo of This GOP Congressman’s Yacht (REWARD: $500).” Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay Times, August 8, 2018. https://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/08/08/wanted-a-photo-of-this-gop-congressmans-yacht-reward-500/. ^
  11. Burns, Alexander. “With $30 Million, Obscure Democratic Group Floods the Zone in House Races.” The New York Times. The New York Times, October 31, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/31/us/politics/democrats-dark-money-midterms.html?auth=-google1tap.   ^
  12. “ICYMI: VERN BUCHANAN IS CHANGING HIS PRE-EXISTING POSITION.” Floridians for a Fair Shake, October 31, 1970. https://www.flfairshake.org/news/icymi-vern-buchanan-is-changing-his-pre-existing-position/. ^
  13. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/florida-playbook/2018/05/16/chris-kings-ad-hits-sweet-spot-will-parkland-kids-boycott-publix-over-proud-nra-sellout-medical-marijuana-smoking-ban-goes-to-trial-270286 ^
  14. “Https://Www.linkedin.com/in/Stephengaskill/.” Linkedin Profile Stephen Gaskill. Linkedin. Accessed September 15, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephengaskill/. ^
  15. “Florida Red and Blue.” Ballotpedia. Accessed September 15, 2020. https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Red_and_Blue. ^
  16. Nicol, Ryan. “LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus President Stephen Gaskill Endorses Pete Buttigieg for President.” Florida Politics – Campaigns & Elections. Lobbying & Government., January 14, 2020. https://floridapolitics.com/archives/315803-gaskill-endorses-buttigieg-president. ^
  17. McDonald, John. “Florida LGBTQ Dems Convene Virtual Summer Conference.” South Florida Gay News, September 7, 2020. https://southfloridagaynews.com/National/florida-lgbtq-dems-convene-virtual-summer-conference.html. ^
  18. Anderson, Zac. “Political Insider: Shadowy Group Targeting Vern Buchanan.” Tribune. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 8, 2018. https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180707/political-insider-shadowy-group-targeting-vern-buchanan. ^
  19. https://www.linkedin.com/in/maxwellfrost?challengeId=AQHaCkfHzBcD-QAAAXSOnSEW8P371dH0j-IY29DAPmGmNVLeq6HjkFG_be4hZAd6LLRzchYFh8MgI6KasXDX0WhAWI_rc8GZ6Q&submissionId=f2f00e00-1dc5-3416-5d67-9241e769b724 ^
  20. Anderson, Zac. “Political Insider: Shadowy Group Targeting Vern Buchanan.” Tribune. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 8, 2018. https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180707/political-insider-shadowy-group-targeting-vern-buchanan. ^
  21. “The Surreal News 9-10 AM Friday 10-26-18.” WSLR+Fogartyville, October 25, 2018. https://wslr.org/the-surreal-news-9-10-am-friday-10-26-18/. ^

Coalition Memberships

  1. Health Care Voter
  See an error? Let us know!

Floridians for a Fair Shake


Washington, DC