House Speaker Richard Corcoran says it’s high time for Florida to end public financing of political elections.
Seeking to end “taxpayer waste,” Corcoran is pushing for the repeal of a constitutional provision which provides for partial public financing of statewide elections.
Corcoran has asked the state’s Constitution Revision Commission to place a measure on the 2018 ballot repealing a section of the state’s constitution which would repeal Florida’s system of public financing.
If passed, Corcoran would not be allowed to accept any public money while running for office -- and no one else would, either.
Candidates running for statewide office -- specifically for the governor and Cabinet positions -- can receive partial or full public matching for individual contributions up to $250 per Florida resident contribution.
In order to cash in on public funds, politicians have to agree to cap their spending to $2 per each voter, which ends up equaling about $26 million.
On Wednesday, Corcoran trashed the public matching system, criticizing it for being another form of “welfare” which he has railed so adamantly against.
"This is a gross waste of taxpayer money and is nothing more than welfare for politicians,” Corcoran said. “All it does is protect the insider political class. You really have to be clueless or just plain selfish to accept money from our state coffers that could go to our schoolchildren, first responders, or be put back in the pockets of our taxpayers.”
Corcoran said his proposal was not guided by political ambition but rather about “doing the right thing.”
State Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, piggybacked on Corcoran’s statement and put his full support behind Corcoran’s idea to nix public funding.
“I'm proud to join the Speaker and I'm sure many of my colleagues in offering of this repeal proposal,” Boyd said in a release. “Over $10 million of taxpayer money has been spent on political campaigns since 2010. That's $10 million that went to political consultants, TV ad buyers, and politicians instead of school kids, substance abuse treatment, or veterans. That is unacceptable and repeal of the provision in the Constitution is the way to end this practice."
If approved, the measure would need to receive 60 percent of the vote on the ballot to pass and could have wide-ranging effects on some political campaigns.
Corcoran is widely expected to jump in the race for governor and some of his possible primary opponents have a history of taking public funds.
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam accepted public matching when he ran for office in 2010 and in 2014, though it is uncertain whether he will follow suit for his gubernatorial campaign.
The only other major Republican candidate, State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, told supporters in July he waited until this month to announce his gubernatorial campaign in part because of Florida’s public finance system.
If Latvala decides to opt into public matching, the law would give him a leg up since many of his donations come from smaller donors contributing less money.
Candidates have until June of next year to determine whether or not they’ll participate in the public matching system.