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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014
Politics

Gov. Scott kills higher campaign contribution limits

Published:

TALLAHASSEE — Efforts to raise campaign contribution limit could be dead for this year after Gov. Rick Scott's office said today he is unlikely to approve any increase.

The push to raise limits is being made primarily in the House, which passed a bill (HB 569) that would raise the campaign contribution limit from $500 to $5,000 for statewide candidates and from $500 to $3,000 for legislative candidates.

A Senate bill (SB 1382) would raise the contribution limit to $3,000 for statewide candidates but keep it $500 for legislative candidates.

But Scott spokeswoman Melissa Sellers said that the governor “can't imagine signing a bill” that would raise contributions by any amount, and the sponsor of the Senate bill, Jack Latvala says he agrees with the governor.

“I have never had a lot of interest or stomach for the idea of raising individual contribution limits,” said Latvala, R-Palm Harbor, adding that they only reason he has proposing increases is out of a spirit of compromise with the House. “I understand where the governor is coming from and I support his position.”

The House is justifying the higher contribution limits by also requiring candidates to file more campaign finance reports. It also eliminates a type of political committee that some lawmakers have used to pay for meals, entertainment and travel that are unrelated to the committees' purposes. House Speaker Will Weatherford said he hopes the governor will “come around.”

“I cannot imagine why he would oppose a bill that increases transparency, ends slush funds and takes away money from third party groups,” said Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

Scott spent more than $70 million of his and his family's money to get elected — far more than the $17.5 million his opponent, Democrat Alex Sink, raised while being limited by $500 campaign contribution limits. Scott plans to run for re-election next year and the higher contribution levels would allow a Democratic challenger to raise more money.

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