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Jolly plans "new ideas conference"

Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly says he is planning a "new ideas" conference" which will be held in Pinellas County, probably in September, to discuss public matters such as economic development, defense, campaign financing and others.

Jolly said he'd like to invite scholars and leaders in different fields to participate, and create a public dialogue on five or six important issues.

He said he'd like the conference to be "non-political, non-partisan" – although in September it would fall squarely in campaign season.

One example of the type of issue he'd like to discuss is a matter that relates to campaign financing, namely, the influence of outside groups which pour millions of dollars into elections, including Pinellas County's recent special congressional election, which he narrowly won. Millions of dollars not controlled by the candidates were spent on behalfof his campaign, as well as that of Democrat Alex Sink.

Jolly said his first-blush idea was that any advertisement spent on behalf of a candidate ought to be approved first by the candidate. Then he said he realized that wouldn't work, because if candidates have say-so over the outside spending, it might render campaign contribution limits meaningless. But the issue is ripe for a good dialogue among experts, he said.

He said he will provide more information soon.