Local campaign finance reform plan draws fire

02/28/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Last night Tampa City Councilman John Dingfelder held a town hall meeting in South Tampa to discuss his proposal to bring campaign finance reform into city elections.

Dingfelder originally wanted the City Charter changed to limit campaign contributions to the three city council at-large seats at $200 per contributor, per election. He also wants to limit campaign contributions to candidates for the four district seats to a maximum of $100 per contributor, per election.

The current existing limit is $500 for at-large and district seats both. But there is already some opposition.

Both Charlie Miranda and Thomas Scott blasted the idea today, even though it wasn’t on the agenda. Scott brought up a racial aspect to the topic and said he would not support such a proposal because it gives incumbents an unfair advantage.

Dingfelder said at Wednesday night’s meeting, community members indicated that they wanted such campaign finance reforms extended to the mayor’s office, and said they wanted uniform limits, not broken up among district or at-large seats.

Councilwoman Mary Mulhern said she wanted the City Attorney to review other campaign finance ordinances in Florida to ensure that time isn’t wasted on a measure that will not be constitutionally sound.

Dingfelder assured Miranda and others that the Council wasn’t going to approve any type of campaign finance reform without the approval of the public.

The Council will have a formal discussion on such regulations on March 20.

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