Sunday, March 21, 2010

Florida House Democratic Caucus Members Offer More Ideas To Restore The Public Trust

A dozen proposals to create greater transparency and more citizen involvement in the political process and to end the Republican culture of corruption in Tallahassee were presented today by members of the Florida House Democratic Caucus.

The amendments sought to help regain the public’s trust in elected officials and the Florida Legislature. Ruling-party House Republicans refused the proposals and, instead, voted to revive legislative leadership slush funds that have been outlawed for two decades.

“Unfortunately, too many people don’t trust government because the campaign finance laws at the state level are a joke,” said Representative Scott Randolph, D-Orlando. “Right now, you can drive a Mack truck through the campaign finance laws.”

Amendments to House Bill 1207 backed by Florida House Democrats aimed to put real teeth in campaign finance laws by, among other things, imposing limits on contributions to secretive political committees.

Representative Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota) offered an amendment that would have demanded greater accounting and reporting of political committees’ spending, such as the now-secretive credit card transactions of the Republican Party of Florida. “This proposal would benefit the people because they will regain trust in us (lawmakers) and the legislative process,” said Representative Fitzgerald.

Representative Janet Long (D-St. Petersburg) offered an amendment that would have merely required groups making telephone calls for electioneering purposes to identify themselves to callers.

Representative Richard Steinberg (D-Miami Beach) proposed prohibiting any person or organization from giving elected officials a gift based on their contribution to certain campaign funds. “People don’t have trust in the system if they believe we are getting rich or taking money by the votes we are taking,” said Representative Steinberg.

Florida House Democratic Caucus members filed 14 amendments to HB 1207, two of which were withdrawn, with the remaining 12 discussed briefly today on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives.

To review all the amendments offered by Florida House Democratic Caucus members, and to see how your lawmakers’ voted, you are encouraged to visit this page of the Legislature’s web site:

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