Political slush funds will get a new name and campaign finance limits will rise for statewide candidates under a Senate campaign finance bill that won unanimous approval by a Senate committee on Monday.
The proposal by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, is intended as a compromise to a House plan that makes similar changes and is a top priority for House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
Weatherford wants to put an end to the abuse of political committees known as Committees of Continuous Existence, or CCEs, by legislators who raise unlimited funds, write checks to other candidates and finance personal entertainment, travel, meals and other lavish expenses. Former Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, who was slated to succeed Weatherford as House speaker in 2016 was voted out of office because of perceived abuses of his CCE.
The Senate bill, SB 1382, abolishes CCEs and raises the contribution limit for candidates for statewide office from $500 to $3000, to $2000 for candidates for the district courts of appeal and leaves the cap at $500 for everyone else. The House bill, HB 569, also ends CCEs but raises the political contribution limits to $10,000. Weatherford said the committee is prepared to lower that amount when it meets on Wednesday.
Despite the changes, several senators on the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee voiced their skepticism that SB 1382 will change much behavior.