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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Common Cause: campaign finance bill will invite more cash into campaigns

24

April

Common Cause Florida is not happy about HB 569, which passed the Florida Senate unanimously earlier today. The non-profit watchdog group has been an advocate of campaign contribution limits and accused lawmakers of "inviting more money into the process" with the bill that raises campaign contribution limits.

 "The notion that lawmakers are seriously considering campaign finance reform is a farce,'' wrote Brad Ashwell, of Common Cause Florida in a statement. " The bill passed today by the Senate does nothing to lessen the flow of money pumping through the political process at every turn and creates little transparency which was supposedly leadership's main goal."

More from his statement:

"While the Senate's bill only raised individual contributions by $500, it still invites more money into the political process in one area while doing nothing to limit money flowing through political committees or the  parties. Several amendments and recommendations have been presented that may pass constitutional scrutiny. They simply were not seriously considered by the sponsors in either house.

"We also disagree with Senator Latvala's statement that there's a limited amount of money flowing through the process. Large influxes of cash often flood in from multiple sources at critical moments in close races. If you were to ask most people on the street, I think they would tell you that there's far too much money influencing the political process. Unfortunately, this bill does nothing to address that problem while inviting more money into the process.

"We continue to adamantly oppose the incumbency protection provision of this bill which allows candidates to carry $20,000 from one campaign to the next. As Senator Clemens correctly pointed out on the floor, and as we argued in committee, they could allow members to carry over a nominal amount if their intent was truly to provide a convenience for candidate. The bottom line is that this amount of money will be a significant advantage for incumbents in smaller races and a good head start for candidates in larger races.

"The notion that any good is served by eliminating CCE's is delusional. The legislation merely calls these committees a different name and even the sponsor admitted that it will be easier to set up the new political committees than it was to set up CCE's.

"The fact that the Senate bill is marginally better than the House versions is a poor justification for this bill. The bottom line is that it will do very little to improve the campaign finance process and likely will do some harm. We do like that the bill requires some extra reporting in the final days leading up to an election and we also support the provision limiting turn-back funds between candidates and the political party to $25,000. We would like to see this returned to the older $10,000 cap but the bill does represent a positive step on this issue."

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 1:03pm]

    

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