Crist signs Justice's bill banning government electioneering
Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill by Sen. Charlie Justice that outlaws local governments from spending taxpayer money advocate opinions on how people should vote, such as the Pinellas County Commission spending money to woo support for the Penny for Pinellas tax.The law applies to cities and school boards, too.
SB 216 was opposed by local government lobbyists, who said it would muzzle them from advocating good policy. The bill, however, specifically says it doesn't stop officials from presenting facts, or stop a local official from giving an opinion -- just spending public money to influence a vote.
"Today marks the beginning of a new era of government accountability, as this will ensure that governments will not be telling taxpayers how to vote, but rather allow voters to be the final arbiter in determining what is good policy for our communities," said Justice, D-St. Petersburg and candidate for Congress. "Gone are the days of unjust and irresponsible campaign spending from our government. I will continue to fight for campaign finance reform in Tallahassee, and I will continue to seek government accountability for our taxpayers.”
David DeCamp, Times staff writer