Ashley Moody’s acceptance of public campaign financing sparks clash with rival

In a news release, Republican rival Frank White criticized Moody for seeking the matching money.
Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody.
Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody.
Published Jun. 25, 2018|Updated Jun. 25, 2018

Republican Ashley Moody will seek public campaign financing matching money in her campaign for attorney general, according to a request filed with the Florida Secretary of State's office.

Moody, a former circuit judge from Plant City, is the top fundraiser in the race from sources other than her own money, with $1.75 million raised for her campaign as of the end of May and $887,500 in her political action committee.

Her opponent Frank White, a Pensacola lawyer, has raised $3.4 million and $360,500 in his PAC, but the campaign total includes $2.75 million of his own money.

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Moody's filing doesn't indicate how much public financing money she's applying for.

Only contributions from individuals of $250 or less are eligible for the public matching money. To be eligible, candidates must agree to limit contributions of their own money and their total campaign spending.

White's contributions of his own money would make him ineligible.

Some Republicans, starting with former Gov. Jeb Bush, have criticized Florida's public campaign financing program, calling it "welfare for politicians." But others used it, including former Attorney General Bill McCollum and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who's backing Moody. Both Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis are accepting it in their Republican bids for Florida governor.

In a news release, White criticized Moody for seeking the matching money. The White campaign matched an anti-government waste quote from Moody, labeling it "Ashley Moody on the campaign trail to voters," against the matching funds request, calling that "Ashley Moody in reality."

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Moody's campaign responded Monday:

"The public campaign finance program was established for this purpose—to combat the self-funding of a candidate running for statewide office with absolutely no experience or qualifications for the office they are seeking," said Moody's campaign spokeswoman, Christina Johnson. "Frank White has never stood in a courtroom to try a case to put a criminal behind bars, but that is not stopping him from funding his campaign to be Florida's top prosecutor with nearly $3 million of (supposedly) his own money. Matching funds allow for an opportunity for Florida voters to hear the truth about candidates. In this case, Ashley Moody, a former prosecutor and judge, is the only candidate running to be Florida's top prosecutor who has prosecuted a case. Of course, those not eligible for this program hoping to buy the AG race with no experience would not support it."