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Politics

Richard Corcoran Calls for End of Public Funding for Statewide Elections

August 23, 2017 - 3:15pm
Richard Corcoran
Richard Corcoran

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.

 

 


Comments

I am writing on behalf of American Promise Florida, a Florida Citizenry group. While we appreciate Mr. Corcoran's interest in campaign finance reform, , we were disappointed to see Mr. Corcoran proposing for the 2018 elections the SAME ballot initiative that was rejected by our citizens in 2010. (Repeal of Article VI, Section 7, which requires Florida to maintain a system to publicly finance campaigns for statewide office). We, too, are appealing to the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) to support the reform of campaign funding, but of a very different sort. We believe, as do close to 80% (MAYBE MORE) of Floridians, that unlimited political contributions and expenditures to influence elections is not free speech. Special interest allowed to contribute unlimited funds to political campaigns is the real cause of the un-level playing field we experience in our election process today. Although these elected officials believe that “politicians benefit, voters don’t” through public campaign funding, we respectfully disagree. Public campaign financing is the only tool we have that allows every American the opportunity to run for office without having to gather large, often compromising, special funds. “Taxpayer dollars are a precious resource”, indeed and nowhere are they more valuable than in the selection and support of our government representatives. We ask that Florida residents who agree with our position support our Ballot Proposal submitted to the CRC (on line at http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Public) “Advancing a Constitutional Amendment to make clear that unlimited political spending is not free speech.” American Promise Florida

The first line of the article is a little innacurate. Mr. Corcoran is not talking about public financing of "elections," in general, but of specific public financing available to only a very few CAMPAIGNS, including the office of Governor, and a few elected cabinet offices. The rules as they exist now can be read in the Public Campaign Financing Handbook, at: http://dos.myflorida.com/media/694127/2014_public_campaign_financing_handbook.pdf Total disbursements for 2014 see here: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/candidates-committees/campaign-finance/public-campaign-finance-2014/ Total disbursements for 2010 see here: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/candidates-committees/campaign-finance/public-campaign-finance-2010/ We should be moving towards MORE public financing of candidates in the GENERAL ELECTIONS, for ALL elective offices, and eliminate all public financing of PRIMARY ELECTIONS including the multi-millions of dollars spent every primary election cycle in the form of administration of primary elections by the 67 Supervisors of Elections in the State of Florida. If political parties want to administer some kind of internal nominating process, the PARTIES should bear the cost of that process. Why, for example, should INDEPENDENT voters bear the cost of the internal nomination process of the Republican or Democratic parties? INDEPENDENTS (known in Florida as NPA, for No Party Affiliation) constitute the fastest growing bloc of Florida voters, now accounting for more than a third of state voters. There very declaration of non-partisanship makes clear that they do not want to be associated with ANY political party, and it is patently unfair for them to be forced to pay for partisan activities.

Exactly, on the surface, this looks like a noble cause... Wrong! If they remove the public funding component, this almost guarantees that the rich or more likely, well connected, bought and paid for props (like Corcoran and most others) are guaranteed to have a huge advantage over everyone else. It should all be public funding capped at $1 million per election. Get all of the private and donated money out of the political system, and then, and only then, will we get back to true representative government like it was intended by the founding fathers. Instead, we've got this bastardized legal racketeering, better interpreted, government to the highest bidder.

The first line of the article is a little innacurate. Mr. Corcoran is not talking about public financing of "elections," in general, but of specific public financing available to only a very few CAMPAIGNS, including the office of Governor, and a few elected cabinet offices. The rules as they exist now can be read in the Public Campaign Financing Handbook, at: http://dos.myflorida.com/media/694127/2014_public_campaign_financing_handbook.pdf Total disbursements for 2014 see here: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/candidates-committees/campaign-finance/public-campaign-finance-2014/ Total disbursements for 2010 see here: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/candidates-committees/campaign-finance/public-campaign-finance-2010/ We should be moving towards MORE public financing of candidates in the GENERAL ELECTIONS, for ALL elective offices, and eliminate all public financing of PRIMARY ELECTIONS including the multi-millions of dollars spent every primary election cycle in the form of administration of primary elections by the 67 Supervisors of Elections in the State of Florida. If political parties want to administer some kind of internal nominating process, the PARTIES should bear the cost of that process. Why, for example, should INDEPENDENT voters bear the cost of the internal nomination process of the Republican or Democratic parties? INDEPENDENTS (known in Florida as NPA, for No Party Affiliation) constitute the fastest growing bloc of Florida voters, now accounting for more than a third of state voters. There very declaration of non-partisanship makes clear that they do not want to be associated with ANY political party, and it is patently unfair for them to be forced to pay for partisan activities. n

Removal of public candidate support favors the incumbent, however, it also opens the door for the newcomer to be brought and paid for by "BIG" whatever. Perhaps capping the amount that can be spent by and for any candidate to a particular dollar amount should be considered.....Oh and that "war chests" are not permitted. Those things are more of a slush fund than anything else.

the better idea is to have full public funding rather then none, the only ones that will be able to run for office are the rich

Well said, Chris.

Comments are now closed.

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