"We took the donations, business as usual, since we certainly didn't want to tip off two high-profile police officers that they were under investigation," Rutherford said.
After the arrests were announced last month, Rutherford said he made $10,000 in donations to two veterans' organizations.
Jacksonville city councilman Clark said he knew some of the Allied Veterans business owners initially from their offer three years ago to pay for a city Veterans Day parade that was threatened by budget cuts. The city ended up coming up with the money for the parade. But he said he didn't know all of the affiliated donors.
"At $500 a pop, the amount of checks it takes to raise $100,000, you just can't know everybody," Clark said.
Mario Rubio, a city council candidate and brother of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, received $850.
Candidates in Palm Beach County, where commissioners in early 2012 approved a yearlong moratorium on the opening of new Internet cafes in unincorporated areas, received almost $15,000. Most went to the local state attorney, Dave Aronberg. County commissioners allowed the ban to expire late last year.
A spokesman said Aronberg never took a position on the moratorium and said he knew of no Internet cafe cases that have come through his office since he was sworn in earlier this year. Spokesman Mike Edmondson said Aronberg believes he was supported by the Internet cafe interests because "he was more receptive to having a general conversation about Internet cafes at that particular point."
"He wasn't passionate for or against," Edmondson said.
Groups affiliated with Ramba, the Tallahassee attorney, contributed more than $15,000 to judicial, commission and property appraiser races in Brevard, Leon, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Two groups, Floridians for Internet Access and Save Our Internet Access, were political committees.
In an email, Ramba said some of the contributions were made to candidates with whom he or his clients had a long-standing relationship. He said the committees were formed to participate in the political process, just like other businesses.
"Just because the State Capitol is here doesn't mean the clients are located here," Ramba said. "Many clients have individual local relationships."
Many of the companies that made donations to local candidates had ties to Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis, who investigators claim was the driving force in the Allied Veterans scheme. Mathis and his law firm gave more than $5,300 to local races. In an interview, Mathis said he didn't direct the affiliates on how to make their donations.
"That was their decision," Mathis said. "I gave them legal advice."
Some candidates who received the donations from the gambling affiliates didn't keep them, skeptical of why they received the money.
Associated Press correspondent Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Fla., contributed to this report.
Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP .
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