State party chairmen flame war over Haridop fund raisingby Dara Kam | February 15th, 2011
Senate President Mike Haridopolos hasn’t yet officially said whether he will abstain from fundraising for his U.S. Senate campaign during the legislature’s upcoming 60-day session that begins on March 8.
This week, Haridopolos, a Merritt Island Republican who frequently speaks of the classes he teaches University of Florida students in the Capitol, said to ask his Democratic opponent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson whether he would forego fundraising while the Senate’s in session.
Politico recently reported that Haridopolos has 15 fundraisers scheduled over the next 30 days to build up his campaign war chest, meaning he intends to keep filling his coffers during session. Florida legislators are barred from collecting campaign contributions for state or legislative races during the 60-day session.
Now, the state party chairmen have waded into the “to fundraise or not to fundraise” sphere.
In a press release, Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith demanded that Haridopolos “either step-down as Senate President” or “immediately stop abusing the power afforded to him by not fundraising until the legislative session ends.”
That prompted Republican Party of Florida Chairman Dave Bitner to issue a press release demanding that Nelson do the same.
“Chairman Smith should clarify his statement about fund raising activities during legislative sessions. Did he mean to say that Senator Bill Nelson will not be accepting any money leading up to, or during the federal legislative session? Will he also request that the Senator return any of the approximately 1.2 million dollars he has accepted from lobbyists during the legislative sessions since 2002?” Bitner said in his statement.
That means Nelson would have to quit his job to raise money to keep his job if he agreed to Bitner’s demand.
As constitutional expert Haridopolos no doubt knows, the problem is that Congress is always in session. Their session (which is not a legislative session, but a Congressional one) begins the day members are sworn in and ends after the two-year Congressional terms are up.
“Article 1, section 3 of the Constitution provides a system of staggered six-year terms for senators. At the conclusion of each two-year congress, the terms of only one-third of the 100 senators expire, allowing two-thirds of the senators to continue serving without interruption. As a consequence, the Senate is a continuing body, which allows the Senate to make any changes in its leadership, or to change committee assignments prior to opening day,” the U.S. Senate website reads.