One last time, before the Florida Legislature is scheduled to adjourn this week …
One last time, it has to be said.
No matter what else this 2011 Legislature does, wise or unwise, it has done one thing that screams for attention.
It has legalized its own direct bribery.
It did this on March 24, when it voted to override former Gov. Charlie Crist's veto of House Bill 1207 from the 2010 legislative session.
And if the members of the Legislature who did it expect to get away with it. …
Then the people of Florida should spend the next year and a half making them regret it.
I have read, with bitter amusement, their comically scripted replies to voters who complained. I have read their claims that this law is somehow an "anticorruption" measure. I have read every bit of their rationalization and misdirection.
The truth remains:
They have made it legal to pay off the Florida Legislature.
It is now legal for the leaders of both parties, in both chambers of the Legislature, to directly operate "leadership funds" that take unlimited contributions from those seeking favorable treatment.
This is the cold fact, no matter how much they talk.
I know their excuses. They are telling the voters, look, there's money in politics anyway. We already run all kinds of outfits that launder campaign money. So it might as well be legal to give it to us directly.
They claim this law is "transparent" because they will write down who is putting in the money. But that means absolutely nothing. That money is still going to be laundered into local elections so that the voters do not know whose dollars are really buying the campaigns of Sen. X and Rep. Y.
Before it adjourns, the Legislature should undo this.
The members are certainly too dug in to admit they did wrong. That's fine. There are still ways out, all kinds of tricks and amendments.
So let them save face. Let them say, it is a perfectly fine law but that the public misunderstands it. Let them say they need to regroup and try again next year.
But if they don't —
Well, then, one last time, here is who did it, and who opposed it.
West Central Florida senators who voted yes:
Charles Dean, R-Inverness; Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island; Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg; Jim Norman, R-Tampa; and Ronda Storms, R-Brandon.
Senators voting no:
Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey; Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland; and Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa.
House members voting yes:
Larry Ahern, R-Seminole; Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton; Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg; Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview; Richard Corcoran, R-New Port Richey; Jim Frishe, R-St. Petersburg; Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City; James Grant, R-Tampa; Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa; Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater; John Legg, R-New Port Richey; Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland; Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs; Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill; Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness; Greg Steube, R-Bradenton; Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel; and Dana Young, R-Tampa.
House members voting no:
Janet Cruz, D-Tampa; Richard Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg; Betty Reed, D-Tampa; and Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.