Lobbyists, Chamber Flood Money Into Their Fight to Stop Jeremy Matlow


December 3, 2021

Cover Photo Credit: Bob O’Lary

The Southern Group drops $10,000 on David Bellamy’s Campaign, More Than a Third of His Total Fundraising. 

Joined by outgoing-Chamber of Commerce Chair, State Prosecutor Who Led Outburst at Chamber of Commerce Retreat

David Bellamy, a candidate for Tallahassee City Commission, Seat 3, recently reported his first month’s fundraising total for his race against Jeremy Matlow.

Bellamy raised $27,200, with $10,000 from one lobbying firm. Bellamy reported 37 contributions, with an average contribution amount of $735. 

An analysis of Bellamy’s fundraising shows that his money came from a tiny group of people. 

Just one lobbying firm was responsible for nearly 40% of his campaign. Of the Southern Group lobbyists and spouses – James  McFaddin III, James  Smith, Paul  Bradshaw, Brooke  Browning, David  Browning, Erin  Rock, Paul  Mitchell, James Clark  Smith, Frank  Stevens, Rachel  Cone, Paul Mercer Fearington Jr nearly all gave $1,000 to Bellamy on the same date, totaling $10,000.  The Southern Group has deep connections with the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) dating back to the Jeb Bush administration. 


Following the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)’s ongoing public corruption investigation of Tallahassee’s City Hall, Matlow has been an outspoken critic of the Chamber of Commerce. Matlow has criticized the Chamber for its lack of action on public corruption. Matlow questioned their continued acceptance of sponsorship dollars by convicted businessman JT Burnette, whose wife’s medical marijuana company, Trulieve, sponsored the Chamber’s 2021 Amelia Island Retreat. 

Campbell stated, “We need Jeremy Matlow out of office,” at the Chamber Retreat, then gave Bellamy $1,000.

State Attorney Jack Campbell made an unprecedented public outburst against Matlow on August 15, 2021, at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island retreat, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. “We need Jeremy Matlow out of office,” Campbell said to loud applause. “I’m tired of him questioning the integrity of the Chamber.” 

On October 29th, 2021, Campbell also gave $1,000 to David Bellamy’s campaign.

“I think the citizens deserve better, and I think the city can do better,” Bellamy told the Democrat

Bellamy’s announcement of his candidacy in the Tallahassee Democrat boasts that he’s a fifth-generation son of an old Tallahassee family. Bellamy denied being recruited by the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey. Dailey,  Bellamy, and Campbell all come from multi-generational Tallahassee families with political ties to local government. 

Chamber Chair and Prime Meridian Bank CEO Sammie Dixon. PHOTO: Ryan Reziaian | OurTallahassee.com

OurTallahassee received confirmation in October that Chamber of Commerce Chair Sammie Dixon, Campbell, and Dailey were primarily responsible for recruiting Bellamy to the race, following the Chamber’s outburst against Matlow during their annual conference.

According to one source, Bellamy discussed his recruitment efforts with Dixon and Dailey. Bellamy allegedly said that the Chamber Chair was looking to recruit candidates in every race – and that Dixon was looking for more “MAGA Democrats” to run in the 2022 election cycle

Bellamy also received $500 from the outgoing Chair of the Chamber, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital CEO Mark O’Bryant. O’Bryant was initially trying to get the Chamber of Commerce to back his son, Patrick O’Bryant, to run against Matlow a few months ago, an effort which fizzled out. Dailey then appointed O’Bryant’s son to the Police Review Board (PRB) on October 27th.

O’Bryant replaced Vice Chairman Tom Napier, a Dailey appointee, on the PRB. Napier, along with fellow board member Luther Lee, abruptly resigned within days of each other. Napier had no comment, but Lee gave a blistering critique of the powers – and lack thereof – given to the PRB.

David Bellamy, pictured Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey, October 21st, 2021.

Questions have been swirling in the community about Dailey’s involvement in Bellamy’s campaign due to their joint appearances in the past month at many public forums, including Dailey’s Campaign Kickoff and at a recent Frenchtown event.  Bellamy has been a long-time financial supporter of the Tallahassee Mayor’s Campaigns.

The race has been quiet since Bellamy filed, and Bellamy didn’t launch his campaign website until his second month of campaigning.  However, recently the publisher of the right-leaning TallahasseeReports.com and host of the radio show Above the Fold, on 93.3, Steve Stewart, appeared on the Preston Scott Morning Show. Discussing the race, Stewart said: “Matlow has an opponent, and you know, nobody gives him much of a chance.”

An earlier version of this article mistakenly said that Dixon had contributed to Bellamy’s campaign in October .

4 Responses

  1. The bets are in if you think this is a horse race but it it’s not. It’s an election in which how much money a candidate raises is not as important as how they will vote once elected. And we know that Jeremy Matlow votes his conscience when it comes to what is best for all Tallahassee residents, not just the rich guys. He has a “track record”!

  2. The Southern Group along with Ballard Partners has made a fortune representing big tobacco which kills at least 480,000 people annually in the U.S. alone. Southern Group Partner Paul Mitchell is on the board of directors of Whole Child Leon which has no problem lying in bed with big tobacco. He was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to the Children’s Services Council which rips off local taxpayers to the tune of at least $8 million annually. Sally Bradshaw, the wife of Southern Group founder Paul Bradshaw, is on the board of directors of Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. As a 55 year old TMH board member, she reportedly was at the front of the line when Covid-19 vaccine was first handed out. Inmates in the Leon County jail where social distancing is impossible were not vaccinated until at least four months later. Clearly no one cared if the inmates lived or died.

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