The Florida House voted Friday to open the doors to more money flowing directly into the coffers of state candidates as part of a sweeping campaign-finance reform that also shines more light on givers and bans some types of fundraising through slush funds.
The bill, HB 569, moves the contribution limits from $500 per election to $5,000 for candidates for governor, Cabinet-level offices and judges on the Florida Supreme Court. Legislative candidates could accept $3,000 checks directly to their campaign.
It requires more rapid disclosure online of who contributed and where the money was spent, mirroring federal law in the final 10 days before a general election with daily disclosure.
And it outlaws the Committees of Continuous Existence lawmakers have used to raise large sums of money from companies like Florida Blue, U.S. Sugar, AT&T and Disney, which hold out-sized influence over legislation.
Rep. Rob Schenck, the Spring Hill Republican carrying the bill, said no one wanted to admit that no matter what they do, the same money will flow into the political process.
The $500 limit in place since the 1990s, “just forces more money into the shadowy, third party organizations everybody in this chamber has derided over the last two days,” he said.
“One of the ways to flush out the insects that do that is to raise the limits and therefore shine a brighter light on them to know where the political money is going.”
But critics noted the CCE ban would just re-shuffle where the money winds up, not reduce its influence. The bill passed 75-39 largely along party lines. Rep. Mike Clelland, D-Lake Mary, was the only local Democrat who broke with his party and voted for the bill.