Proposal to eliminate public financing could go to voters

04/30/09 Mitch E. Perry
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The Florida Senate passed a proposal backed by Melborne Republican Mike Haridopoulus today that will allow Floridians to vote on the scrapping public financing of statewide political campaigns who agree to spending limits.

Even Ben Wilcox’ Common Cause, which supports public financing of elections, has said that the law deserves to be revamped, which was originally approved by Floridians at the ballot box in 1998.

But some Democrats said what Haridopoulus wants is too much. Weston Sen. Nan Rich said the last overhaul, in 2005, which tripled spending limits, was what was wrong with current law.

Fort Walton Beach Republican Don Goetz said that Barack Obama’s unprecedented fundraising last year, in which he reversed a campaign pledge to abide by federal public financing because he could raise so much more privately, was a classic illustration about why such public financing laws are no longer relevant.

But Tampa Democrat Arthenia Joyner said Obama’s financial success was an anomaly, and that less charismatic candidates will need such public financing.

Haridopoulus agreed with Rich that Floridians approved of public financing more than a decade ago, but he said now is the time to revisit such a law.

The bill passed 27-11.

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