Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Kudos to Florida Governor Jeb Bush for his committment to require disclosure of currently secret funds used to influence Florida elections. Today's Saint Petersburg Times reports that improving disclosure is one of the governor's top three priorities for the year.
Florida has a system much like the recent federal soft money system. Some big money donors are getting around limits on contributions to candidates by giving instead to outside groups, who then spend the money in ways that help candidates. Florida really should do much more than requiring disclosure of funds to these groups, they should apply the same limits to these campaigns as they do to candidate campaigns. The Supreme Court has recently made clear that states can do this to prevent their contribution limits from becoming irrelevant.
So, Jeb Bushes proposal is a good first step, but he should really go much further. Voters should keep a close eye on things, however, as the Times reports that "how they will do it is unclear." Politicians in Florida might steal a play from the politicians in Washington, DC and dramatically increase the limits on money they themselves can raise while putting only modest disclosure regulations on the big funds raised by outside groups.