Tipped Hats All Around

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Mary Ann Lindley of the Tallahassee Democract gives a "tip of the hat" to Florida state Sen. Alex Villalobos for declaring his support for public financing of campaigns and I in turn tip my hat to Lindley for a well-written editorial on why it's high time we address how campaigns are financed, and policy written.

She scoffs at what she terms "rhetorical nonsense" from opponents of Clean Elections-style systems who deem it too expensive:


[T]he way things stand, the perception (if not yet 100 percent the reality) is that politicians do the bidding of lobbyists whose arms have been twisted for contributions in exchange for, as some wag put it, "the attention of the mighty."

In the long run, the public treasury leaks multimillions of dollars underwriting laws that are beneficial to only particular deep-pockets industries — say, pari-mutuels or transportation enterprises that "invested" thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, in campaign coffers.

Voters put campaign financing in the state constitution in 1998, and it's one of the few ways we ordinary citizens have of checking the power of special interests to control elections. The Legislature watered down the law in 2005, a year of great mischief when it came to election laws, lobbyist gift-giving bans and so forth.

A bill that would have abolished Florida's partial public financing program for selected statewide offices passed the House but died in Senate, thankfully. It would have been a huge step backwards for Floridians who want to see the state go even further to combat the role of private money in politics by implementing voluntary full public financing of campaigns for statewide and legislative office.