Developer Puts Large Down Payment On Apopka, Mayor Dodges Questions

Research shows that eight of the $11,000 (eleven $1,000) checks comes from apartment developer Mike Wright and companies close to him, who got such a good deal that the Orlando Sentinel wrote a whole article about him taking Apopka to the cleaners.

by Jacob Engels

If the legendary folk singer Roger Miller wanted to sing a song about the current state of Orange County’s second largest city, he would likely start with:

Apopka’s for sale or rent,
but Kilsheimer still makes no sense…

The Mayor who wanted the taxpayers of the state of Florida to pay $500,000 for salaries for himself and his cronies in a startup that he has no professional experience in, is now struggling to explain the excessive political largesse of a man who stands to make millions off Mayor Joe Kilsheimer.

For the three months after filing for reelection, Kilsheimer had turned in around $100, mostly from his own resources.

The June of 2017 report showed the power of incumbency, with him reporting $14,350.

Two things worth noting:


Yes, you read that right. Not one single contribution came with an address from Apopka. The mayor of Apopka is running for reelection and not one contributor came from the city he leads.

Think about that for a second.


Research shows that eight of the $11,000 (eleven $1,000) checks comes from apartment developer Mike Wright and companies close to him, who got such a good deal that the Orlando Sentinel wrote a whole article about him taking Apopka to the cleaners.

Growth Spotter, the Orlando Sentinel vehicle that discusses growth, characterized Kilsheimer and Wright as follows:

The political tide turned in Wright’s favor in April 2014, when MMI found a champion for its project in Apopka’s newly-elected mayor Joe Kilshimer.

He became an early supporter of Wright’s vision for an interchange to open land access in the area.”

The details of the agreement won by Wright were nothing short of remarkable and historical.

Remarkable because the city agreed to pay him to build a road he already had to build, and historical because nobody has ever done a deal like this. Growth Spotter summarizes:

“After three years of research and a year of negotiations with Apopka, MMI won approval in September 2015 to front the cost and risk to build a $6.5 million interchange at the intersection of Marden Road and the 414 Apopka Expressway.

The City Council approved creation of a new Synthetic Tax Incremental Financing District (STIF) to cover the Ocoee Apopka Road Small Area Study. MMI will front 100 percent of the construction cost and risk for the interchange, and then be reimbursed over 10 years in a few ways.”

So, to summarize, Mayor Kilshimer comes in, creates a new project so a developer can be totally repaid $6.5 million he was using to build a road that he publicly acknowledges makes his property more valuable.

Amazingly, they even named it STIF, which is exactly what Mayor Kilshimer did to the taxpayers of Apopka. When it came time to fundraise, the Mayor turned to the developer.

Fortunately for us, developer Mike Wright tells you who he works with here.

And from there, we’re able to see all the money Wright directed to Kilsheimer’s campaign as a thank-you for the $6.5 million boondoggle.

– $1,000 contribution from the developer himself, MMI Development
– $1,000 contribution from Walker & Company Construction
– $1,000 contribution from Steve & Candace Blomley, who work for JMHC
– $1,000 contribution from Shannon and Nicholas Carbone, from CFO Strategies
– $1,000 contribution from JMHC
– $1,000 contribution from First Green Bank
– $1,000 from Empire Finish Systems, who aren’t on the list but are shown on Marden
– $1,000 from Edward J. Fore, an attorney for Zimmerman Sutcliffe

And finally, and most interestingly, is an amendment to the report that creates some really important questions.

A June 6, 2017 in-kind expenditure by Central Florida Strategies was swapped out with an in-kind from the developer himself, Mike Wright.

No details were offered to explain how it is that Kilshimer’s campaign didn’t know who paid the $530.34 food and drink fundraising tab.

Without an elections complaint being filed, we will likely never know who paid the tab that night, but the citizens of Apopka should know that there mayor doesn’t bother to know who is paying his $500+ “fundraising” tabs.

So that’s $8,530.34 to re-elect Mayor Joe Kilshimer.

Perhaps the greatest insight into the flagrant corruption of Mayor Joe Kilshimer comes from the developer himself in the Growth Spotter article:

“Some people to go Vegas and play cards. I like gambling where my intellect ensures my success, will benefit others and prove the naysayers wrong.” 

Why would anybody play cards in Vegas when they can get $6.5 million in taxpayer money for $8,530.34 in campaign contributions?

With Mayor Kilshimer in office, the casino is always open, and a taxpayer sucker is born every minute.


Jacob Engels is an Orlando based journalist whose work has been featured and republished in news outlets around the globe including Politico, InfoWars, MSNBC, Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Daily Mail UK, Associated Press, People Magazine, ABC, and Fox News to name a few. Mr. Engels focuses on stories that other news outlets neglect or willingly hide to curry favor among the political and business special interests in the state of Florida.