Campaign finance changes en route to Cristby Dara Kam | March 24th, 2010
Legislative leaders would be allowed to raise campaign cash and give it out to candidates outside of the state political parties’ coffers under a measure on its way to Gov. Charlie Crist for signature.
The proposal would essentially renew a law barred two decades ago that permitted the House Speaker, Senate President and minority leaders in both chambers to have “leadership funds” used to dole out money to candidates.
The measure would also crack down on “electioneering communication organizations,” or ECOs, in the aftermath of a recent court decision that allow the political groups to run attack ads without revealing much of who’s behind them.
Sen. Ted Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat who is running for Congress, and other Democrats objected to that portion of the election reform (HB 1207) because they don’t want “to let people see the six figure contributions that are coming in from special interests. We should ban them.”
The bill creates “affiliated party committees,” or APCs, much like the old leadership funds lawmakers outlawed 20 years ago because they gave lobbyists too much influence in the legislature.
Republicans argued that the change would shed light on a practice that’s already taking place in the shadows.
“Money’s being raised,” said Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, who is slated to take over as Senate President next year. “We want to make it so the funds aren’t in one big pool. We want to separate it out so people can be accountable…. this is sunshine. People deserve to know when they see the commercials on TV where the money came from. We are opening up the books.”
Sens. Paula Dockery, a Lakeland Republican running for governor, and Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, were the only Republicans to vote against the measure.
Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, and Democratic Sens. Jeremy Ring of Margate and Gary Siplin of Orlando joined Republicans in the 25-11 vote.