One of Florida’s wealthiest lawmakers again has legislation that would carve a new public records exemption into state law for donors to taxpayer-financed performing arts center.
Margate Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring’s legislation (SB 570) sailed Monday through the Senate’s Community Affairs Committee on a 7-0 vote. Ring said the measure has been promoted by the Broward County Performing Arts Center, whose leaders have told him that the idea of going public with a sizable gift has discouraged some prospective donors — who demand anonymity.
Ring has reported a $17.9 million net worth, making him the second-wealthiest member of the Florida Senate. He made a fortune as an executive with Yahoo, the Internet company.
Ring said he’s sponsored the public records exemption for several years — but has never managed to get it through both chambers of the Legislature and the governor. Former Gov. Charlie Crist, who was honored by the media-backed First Amendment Foundation for his service to the cause of open government, vetoed the measure one year, Ring said.
Legislation approved during Crist’s term also requires two-thirds approval of the House and Senate for an exemption. But Ring drew plenty of support Monday for his proposal.
“There are a lot of people who want to give, but they don’t want to get on someone’s mailing list,” said committee Chairman Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton. “It’s sort of like giving to the Republican Party. They may have money they want to give, but they don’t want to be public about it.”
Ring said, “I never gave one penny to the Republican Party. But I’m on their mailing list.”