First Coast Hauls in Political Cash; REPUBLICAN PARTY A Ponte Vedra Consulting Firm Made More Than $3.2 Million for "Media" Work. DEMOCRATIC PARTY Blue Cross/Blue Shield Made More Than Half a Million on Other Side of the Political Fence

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT DIXON

Majority Strategies says on its website it has sent out more than a half-billion political mail pieces and provided help to more than 1,000 campaigns, including those for presidential candidates, since its inception in 1998.

Simply put, the Ponte Vedra Beach direct-mail company knows politics.

Since 2000, the firm has counted the Republican Party of Florida among its many clients, and this past election cycle was no different. The party spent $3.2 million with the company for things such as consulting, direct mail services and postage.

During the last two months leading to the November's midterm election, the party spent $2.6 million with Majority Strategies, the most with any individual vendor in the state over that time, according to financial disclosure reports released last week.

The big role Majority Strategies played in state Republicans' successful November helped spike a record amount of money flowing from both major state political parties to Jacksonville-area interests.

Since January 2009, the top six Northeast Florida residents/companies brought home $4.1 million from either the state's Republicans or Democrats. By comparison, both parties paid a total of $4.3 million to all Jacksonville-area interests between 1996 and the 2008, records show. An additional $1.7 million went to Majority Strategies, which at the time listed an Ohio address.

Brett Buerck, the firm's president, said the company does not speak on behalf of its clients, which also included the successful Rick Scott gubernatorial campaign, a political action committee that supported him and a host of state parties and politicians throughout the country.

Topping the list on the Democrats' side is Jacksonville-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which was paid $514,876 between January 2009 and November's election to provide health insurance to permanent and campaign staffers.

The top-earning individual was Scott Arcenaux of Jacksonville, the Florida Democratic Party's executive director. …