Politics

Low on Cash, Bill McCollum Battles Rick Scott's Challenge to Campaign Finance Law

With $800,000 in the bank, the attorney general might have to rely on taxpayer contributions to win GOP primary
By: Kevin Derby | Posted: July 13, 2010 4:05 AM

Lagging in the polls and now running short on cash, Attorney General Bill McCollum’s campaign came out guns a-blazing Monday, attacking health-care executive Rick Scott, its candidate's chief rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, for suing the state in an attempt to change campaign finance laws.

“On the day Rick Scott filed to run for governor, he pledged to abide by campaign-spending caps currently in state law,” said McCollum campaign manager Matt Williams. “Now that he is failing to win over voters, despite the millions he is personally hemorrhaging into his campaign to pay for false and negative attacks against Bill McCollum, he wants to change the rules of the game. There Rick Scott goes again, saying one thing and doing another.

“On June 17, Rick Scott promised to stay under the $24.9 million limit on spending and less than a month later he now says he plans to exceed that,” added Williams. “Now he’s using money he ripped off from taxpayers to sue the state of Florida, in a greedy and dishonest attempt to avoid the repercussions of his decision."

Williams said that McCollum, who under the current law would receive a dollar from the state for every dollar that the Scott campaign spent over $24.9 million, was going to defend the law -- funds the McCollum camp desperately needs. On Monday, Williams revealed the campaign had $800,000 in its accounts, far less than it needs to counter Scott across Florida in the six weeks until the primary.

“Today, Bill McCollum filed a motion seeking to join the case in support of upholding state law,” said Williams. “Given that Rick Scott’s lawsuit mentions him directly, it is only appropriate for Attorney General McCollum to join this case to ensure his position is adequately represented.”

“Thankfully, Florida voters are becoming increasingly disgusted with a greedy and dishonest insider who will say and spend anything to avoid his record – from profiting off illegal immigrants to making millions off President Obama’s $780 billion stimulus boondoggle,” concluded Williams, even though polls show Scott ahead of McCollum.

The McCollum camp has pushed this line of attack since Scott filed his lawsuit last week, while the Scott team argued that the campaign finance laws are an impediment to free speech.

The Scott campaign fired back at McCollum on Monday afternoon.

"Only a career politician like Bill McCollum would employ a risky strategy to spend all his money and then demand that taxpayers bail him out when his failing campaign is broke and needs more money to fund his negative attacks," said Joe Kildea, a spokesman for the Scott campaign. "Sounds like the same strategy AIG and Goldman Sachs employed. Is that really the type of money manager we need running our state? From no-bid contracts to misusing the state plane, Floridians have thrown enough money at Bill McCollum."

In the meantime, with the second quarter campaign fund-raising deadline extended until the end of the week, McCollum needs a quick infusion of cash if he hopes to compete with the massive media campaign that the Scott team unleashed, which is now estimated to have cost more than $21 million. McCollum had raised $1.4 million in the first quarter of the year but spent more than $4 million in his effort to keep up with Scott.

One national pundit has weighed in at the way McCollum’s bank account plummeted.

“This free fall is nearly unprecedented,” noted NBC political analyst Chuck Todd on Twitter.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com, or at 850-727-0859.


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