Gov. Charlie Crist is remaining mum as the clock ticks down on the midnight deadline to act on a bill that would allow legislative leaders to revive campaign accounts known as leadership funds to impact elections.
Crist can sign the bill (HB 1207) into law, veto it or do nothing and allow it to become law on its own if he does not act by midnight tonight.
Crist’s response to what he will do with the bill was to ask a reporter if he should sign it.
“I’m not sure yet. What would you advise? You’re a citizen too,” Crist asked Jim Ash, Capitol bureau chief of the Tallahassee Democrat and Gannett News Service.
“I’m not allowed to say,” Ash demurred.
“You’re not allowed to say?” Crist asked.
The exchange took place in an elevator en route to the 22nd floor where Crist was scheduled to give a speech to chiropractors.
When pressed, Crist said he hasn’t made up his mind.
“No, not yet. Not yet. Sort of focused on the chiropractors now. Trying to compartmentalize,” Crist said.
Republican lawmakers in both the House and the Senate quickly pushed the measure through both chambers and sent it to Crist last week. Most Democrats, including Sen. Dan Gelber who is running for attorney general, object to the funds.
Gelber repeated his request of Crist to veto the measure in a letter sent this afternoon.
“I don’t believe this is or should be a partisan issue. These committees fell into ill repute years ago when Democrats were in control of the legislature and that is why they were outlawed. Now, with voter confidence in their government at a frighteningly low level, is not the time to bring them back. These leadership funds would allow staff working for legislators to actually fundraise during the legislative session. That sends the wrong message and I believe would result in the kind of cash register politics that justifies the dim view of government that Floridians seem to have,” Gelber, D-Miami Beach, wrote.
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 without oversight by political committees.