Rep. Randolph seeks opinion on gift-ban exemption
Rep. Scott Randolph, an Orlando Democrat, wants a formal opinion on two issues related to the 2006 law that prohibits legislators from accepting gifts of any kind from lobbyists or their clients. Randolph wrote to House general counsel George Levesque on Aug. 5, seeking clarifications on two questions following a Times/Herald report published a day earlier.
The report disclosed that Republican House members who attended last week's American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) event in New Orleans were allowed to use lobbyist-donated money to an ALEC-related scholarship fund. The unusual exemption was approved by the House counsel in May 2006 in an "informal opinion" offered to Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Port St. Lucie.
Randolph asks why it's permissible for lawmakers to receive money donated by lobbyists to a group as long as the money was collected prior to the imposition of the gift ban on Jan. 1, 2006. The Democrat's other query whether the law allows a group can "circumvent" the gift ban by donating the lobbyists' largesse to another group that does not directly employ a lobbyist.
A copy of Randolph's letter is posted below.