The League of Women Voters of Florida supports measures to protect, extend and encourage the use of the franchise and to improve methods of financing political campaigns in order to ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office, and promote citizen participation in the political process.
A constitutional amendment in 1998 provided that when candidates for statewide public office agree to limit campaign expenditures, they qualify for limited public funding. In 2005, the Legislature voted to increase the spending limits for races from $6 million to $20 million for the governor’s race and increased the amount of soft money political parties could contribute from $50,000 to $250,000. These provisions were never heard in committee and appeared on the floor at the end of the legislative session. They are inconsistent with the intent of public financing to hold down the cost of campaigns.
In 2008, a Senate Joint Resolution was introduced that would repeal the Campaign Financing Act. The League opposed the resolution and, instead, asked legislators to roll back the spending limits to pre-2005 limits. An amendment to this effect was passed unanimously by the House, but neither the bill nor the amendment was picked up in the Senate.
In the 2009 legislative session, the resolution appeared again, passed both houses and appeared on the November 2010 ballot. It was defeated by the electorate. Now, legislators have an opportunity to revisit the Campaign Finance Act of 1998 and make it a true reform.