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As debate lingers on CCEs, Cannon keeps his alive; newcomers open new ones

Former Speaker Dean Cannon is among the former legislators whose use of his political committee is raising the hackles of both his former colleagues and lobbyists.

Cannon, who left politics after being term limited out of office in November, has opened a lobbying firm in Tallahassee to lobby the executive branch but has never shut down his CCE that raised $1.1 million while Cannon was in office and spent $830,000. 

The CCE, Florida Freedom Council, spent $8,068 on personal expenses in 2012. The expenses included $2,678 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa and $2,675 on travel from GK Aviation, both in September; $485 at Shula’s 347 in Tallahassee on Nov. 12 and $2,230 on Crown Awards on Nov. 19.

In the final days of the 2012 election cycle, Cannon’s CCE gave $25,000 to the CCE of Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Ormond Beach, $25,000 to the Florida Enterprise Fund, a federally-regulated electioneering and communications organization, and $50,000 to the Republican Party of Florida.

Cannon said he is not the only person authorized to raise and spend money on the account but has asked the chairman, Scott Thomas, to shut it down.

“I have been supportive of that CCE but I do not have now, or ever had, complete control of it,’’ he said Monday. “I have asked the chairman to disperse the remaining funds to the Republican Party of Florida.” 

While Cannon hasn't closed his, the talk of abolishing CCEs hasn't stopped a few from getting into the game.

In the last two months, since legislators have begun the discussion of closing CCEs, three legislators have started new ones while dozens of others have kept theirs active. The newcomers to the table are Reps. Katie Edwards, D-Sunrise, and Sens. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach and Kelli Stargel, R- Lakeland. Reps. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, are two legislators who have closed their CCEs in 2013.