As I have mentioned, and plan to keep mentioning with vigor, it is now legal in Florida to pay the state Legislature directly.
As of March 24, the day the Legislature voted for it, it is legal for the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in our Legislature to operate "leadership funds."
These "leadership funds" are a group campaign account for each party. Donors can simply throw unlimited sums into the bag — a bag held by the same people writing the laws of Florida.
That is an iron-clad fact.
In recent days quite a few readers have contacted their legislators to complain, and the replies have been, at the least, interesting.
Misdirecting, amusing, and apparently based on talking points written in Tallahassee, but interesting.
"At no time is it permissible for a member of the Legislature to receive payoffs," Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, replied to a citizen.
"At no time, in any legislative body, in any state, in America, are payoffs allowed to leaders of any legislature," wrote state Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. "For Mr. Troxler to suggest such is irresponsible journalism."
"At no time, in any legislative body, in any state, in America, are payoffs allowed to leaders of any legislature," replied state Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-New Port Richey. "For Mr. Troxler to suggest such is irresponsible journalism."
I think I hear an echo.
Corcoran: "We're moving in a right direction."
Brandes: "We're moving in a right direction."
Ahern: "House Bill 1207 was a move in the right direction."
It is now legal. To pay. Money. Directly. To the leaders of the Florida Legislature.
The defense of the 81 House members and 30 senators who voted for this is, hey, there's going to be money in politics anyway, so might as well give it to us directly.
I do admire Reps. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, and Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs, for daring to go off the script in their replies to citizens:
Nehr: "If you get all your information from the Times, especially Mr. Troxler, you may not be getting all sides to the story. After all, ranting in an opinionated article sells newspapers."
McKeel: "Although Mr. Troxler seems to think that contributions to political parties should be off limits, that right to free political speech is protected and upheld by the Supreme Court."
Sir! You have me pegged all wrong. I am clearly on record as supporting unlimited contributions to candidates — what you folks in politics like to call "hard" money.
What I am against is …
PAYOFFS TO THE LEGISLATURE.
It is that simple. The same people writing the law should not be running statewide campaign slush funds for their party. They should be limited to raising money for their own re-election.
Let everybody else raise money. Let the Republican Party raise money. Let the Democratic Party raise it. Let the corporations raise it. Let the unions raise it. Let conservatives raise it. Let liberals raise it. Let the citizens of a free nation raise it.
Except not those who have sought sacred office, who have taken an oath, and who wield the awesome power of writing law that rules the people.