Déjà vu: Richard Corcoran seeks repeal of public campaign financing - Florida Politics

Déjà vu: Richard Corcoran seeks repeal of public campaign financing

House Speaker and presumptive Republican candidate for governor Richard Corcoran, who declared war on “corporate welfare” last Legislative Session, now wants to end “welfare for politicians.”

On Wednesday, he asked the Constitution Revision Commission—of which he appointed nine of its 37 members—to consider an proposal to repeal a section of the state Constitution that provides for public financing of statewide political campaigns.

The Legislature, however, placed a similar amendment on the ballot for statewide approval in 2010. It flunked at the polls with 52 percent approval; amendments need 60 percent for adoption.

“Commissioners have received the letter and will consider it along with all other comments and proposals submitted to the commission,” CRC spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice told Florida Politics.

The money, which comes with provisos, comes out of the state’s general revenue, said Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell.

“This is a gross waste of taxpayer money and is nothing more than welfare for politicians,” Corcoran said in a statement. “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,” he added. “This proposal is simply about doing the right thing.”

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, is widely expected to run for governor. He opened a new political committee, Watchdog PAC, though he publicly has said he will remain Speaker through 2018 and will decide on his future plans after the next session. He’s term-limited in the House next year.

Corcoran’s office also provided links to information on past statewide candidates that have taken public financing, including Agriculture Commissioner and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam, who took $587,000 for his 2010 election and another $459,000 during his 2014 re-election.

Attorney General Pam Bondi took $432,000 in 2010 and $328,000 in 2014. Gov. Rick Scott took no public dollars to fund his 2010 or 2014 campaigns, records show.

Though the original intent of public financing was to “level the playing field,” as Corcoran and House Commerce Committee chair Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican, wrote in a letter to commissioners, instead it has been used “to subsidize statewide candidates, mostly incumbents, when they are facing weak opposition.

“Simply put: politicians benefit, voters do not,” they wrote. “Pollsters, media buyers, mail houses, and campaign consultants benefit while the people of Florida are left holding the bill.”

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.
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