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Critical report on Florida’s campaign finance system finds a fan in Weatherford

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford has made overhauling Florida’s campaign finance system one of his top priorities, so it’s no surprise that he was eager to provide a blurb endorsing a new report on campaign finance by Integrity Florida.

“There’s some thought provoking ideas there,” Weatherford told Naked Politics. “I think what they’ve uncovered is what at least some of us have already known. We already have unlimited campaign money in Florida, it’s just not going to the campaigns.”

Weatherford is referring to the money that goes to Committees of Continuous Existence, known as CCEs. Created in the 1950s, they were designed to be political committees for dues-gathering organizations and corporations. In the last 10 years, however, they have become popular as fund-raising tools for lawmakers, some of whom have used them for personal expenses.

Wednesday’s report by Integrity Florida, an independent ethics watchdog group, calls for the elimination of CCEs (while keeping other political committees) – which Weatherford favors as well.

“Instead of having all these entities that are hard to trace, we should have transparency so you can see where the money is coming in,” Weatherford said.

He wouldn’t comment on the other recommendations by Integrity Florida, which include eliminating campaign contribution limits and expenditures for candidates; requiring the disclosure of whether contributions were solicited by candidates; requiring a 24 hour reporting period for contributions 30 days before a primary or general election; and establishing a statewide campaign finance database.

“It’s a very compelling document,” Weatherford said. “We’ll look at it closely.”