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Quid pro quo? CSI Academy owner’s family members were major contributors to Watson’s campaign

BY JENNIFER CABRERA / OCTOBER 29, 2019

Our previous story described Clovis Watson’s bill to give $2.1 million in state money to CSI Academy, Inc., in exchange for providing crime-scene investigation training (at no cost) to Florida law enforcement agencies. CSI Academy is owned by Robert Rush, a Gainesville lawyer. 

Since Watson ran unopposed in the general election, he didn’t receive a large amount in campaign contributions in 2018—only $17,485. Of that, $1000 came from Robert Rush (who had not contributed to Watson since 2012 and only contributed to Watson and Nikki Fried in 2018), and $1000 came from Marian Rush, the sister and employee of Robert Rush (and also the  City Attorney for the City of Alachua), who had never previously contributed to Watson. Anne Rush, Robert Rush’s daughter-in-law, also contributed $200 to Watson (her only previous campaign contribution was to her husband, Jacob Rush, who challenged Ted Yoho in the 2014 primary). 

While Watson attracted $1000 donations from a number of corporations and PACs, there were only 3 individual donors that gave that much: Robert Rush, Marian Rush, and Jess Bailes, the Vice President of ABC Fine Wines & Liquors (ABC Fine Wines & Liquors also contributed $1000). Two individuals contributed $500 (Mark Langley of Key West and Alachua City Manager Adam Boukari), and the rest of the individual contributors gave $250 or less.

Watson’s office has not responded to our request for comment on the CSI Academy bill. Watson has filed to run for Alachua County Sheriff in 2020. 

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