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LWVF: $10,000 Contributions Silence Main Street Voices


The League of Women Voters of Florida, which has offered its own election reform other than what is now before legislators, has come out with its own ideas for repairing the states broken and badly damaged" campaign financing system.

In a letter to House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, League President Deirdre Macnab writes that the proposal to up the campaign contribution limit from $500 to $10,000 is the wrong way to go.

The League disagrees, however, that raising the current limits on direct contributions to candidates is a solution to the problem and believes that doing so would further drown out the voices of Main Street Floridians who can't give large amounts to candidates, Macnab wrote.

The letter repeats assertions made by League leaders last week in a conference call with reporters, calling for new campaign finance disclosure requirements, setting limits on contributions to political parties and either eliminating Committees of Continuous Existence or prohibiting candidates from using them to pay for personal expenses.

Weatherford has proposed eliminating the CCEs.

Rep. Robert "Rob" Schenck, R-Spring Hill, the sponsor of House Bill 569, has said the House proposal is less about expanding the amount of contributions any individual can receive than making money in Florida campaigns more transparent to the public.

The state Legislature's revamping of its campaign rules was spurred in part because of concerns that at least one former legislator was living off his CCE money.

The bill is scheduled to go before the Appropriations Committee on Thursday morning.

The Leagues proposals:

The League recommends making substantial improvements in disclosure requirements for candidates, parties and committees, including weekly reporting of contributions and expenditures in the 60-day period before a general election and the 30-day period before a primary. The League also recommends requiring 24-hour reporting of contributions and expenditures in the week leading up to an election.

The League recommends requiring more detailed reporting of contributions to candidates, parties and committees, including the name of the CEO of a company and the registered agent, chairperson and treasurer of a committee making a contribution. The League also recommends requiring more detailed reporting of all advertising expenditures, including the name of the candidate or issue the ad is targeting.

The League recommends placing a reasonable limit on contributions to political parties and retaining the existing limits on expenditures from the parties to candidates and on advertising.

The League recommends either eliminating Committees of Continuous Existence (CCEs) completely or prohibiting candidates from using them to pay for personal expenses or to evade the ban on gifts from lobbyists to legislators.

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