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Push for public campaign finance repeal back to Senate

Try, try again.

Though it has failed multiple times over the years, the push to repeal public campaign finance is back for 2020.

On Tuesday, Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, revived his proposal to end public money going to political campaigns.

SJR 1110 contemplates an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would repeal the 1998 provision that requires public financing of statewide candidates who agree to campaign spending limits.

If the Senate Joint Resolution passes, voters could consider the issue in a Special Election, or during the November 2020 general.

In reporting on this issue last year, News Service of Florida asserted that $9.9 million of public money went to candidates for public office.

Ironically, the leading recipient of public money holds the veto pen.

Gov. Ron DeSantis received $3.23 million and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum was not too far behind, with $2.62 million in public funds.

Public money was just a small fraction of the over $106 million the two raised between campaign accounts and political committees.

However, as has been widely reported, Gillum’s political committee failed to spend $3 million it had on hand as the campaign ended.

Gillum has been programming the money since, with voter registration, political donations, and legal and consulting fees winnowing away at the nest egg.

Though 2018 was the most expensive non-Presidential election cycle in Florida history, precedent suggests that the 2020 attempt to repeal public campaign finance reform may be no more successful than previous tries.

Just as the push failed with the Constitutional Revision Commission in 2017, the measure has yet to clear the legislative process, no matter who champions it.

Former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, currently Education Commissioner, excoriated the practice when he held the gavel.

“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.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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