Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson wants Sen. John Thrasher stripped of two important committee assignments if he is annointed chairman of the state GOP as expected.
Lawson asked Senate President Jeff Atwater today to remove Thrasher as chairman of the Ethics and Elections Committee and off the powerful reapportionment committee if he is also chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
“The conflict is evident: Senator Thrasher’s primary job as RPOF head is to see that Republicans win and maintain office through the elections process – a process in which his committees – one of which he controls – play a critical role,” Lawson, D-Tallahassee, wrote Atwater this morning.
Thrasher, a former House Speaker, returned to the legislature in a nasty special election to replace the late Sen. Jim King of Jacksonville. The trial lawyers’ association political arm targeted Thrasher in a racially-charged mailer that resulted in a shake-up at the Florida Justice Association leadership and forced former executive director Scott Carruthers to resign.
Thrasher’s special election drama was one of the reasons why Atwater appointed him to chair the committee, Atwater said at the time. Campaign reforms are at the top of Thrasher’s agenda this session, the Jacksonville lobbyist said late last year.
Along with members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, I was deeply troubled by the announcement earlier this week that Republican Senator John Thrasher may take over as head of the Republican Party of Florida, while maintaining his seat in the Florida Senate.
“As you know, the task of the committee he chairs is to set public policy on maintaining fair and unbiased elections. The task of the second of which he is a member is to oversee the drawing of legislative districts. To allow Senator Thrasher to remain in dual chairmanship roles and/or as a member of a committee holding sway over fair representation would threaten the integrity of the process as a whole,” Lawson wrote.
Stay tuned for a response from Atwater.