Here’s an idea whose time has probably not yet come in the Florida Legislature: Stop the governor and Cabinet members from soliciting and collecting campaign money during the legislative session.
Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, filed his proposal (HB 707) and says statewide officials should be held to the same standard as lawmakers, who are barred from fund-raising during regular, extended and special sessions because it creates the appearance of a quid pro quo at the Capitol.
“Everybody should play by the same rules,” Jenne told the Times/Herald. “It’s just to avoid the appearance of impropriety.”
The governor can legally raise money during sessions even though he has life or death power over every bill and appropriation affecting lobbyists and their clients. Cabinet members lobby lawmakers on all kinds of issues but have no constitutional role in the fate of specific legislation like the governor does.
Gov. Rick Scott sidestepped a question about it. “It’s a decision for the Legislature,” he told reporters.
“I’m not familiar with the bill. I look forward to reviewing it,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor.
Jenne said Scott and Cabinet members collectively raised $16 million during the 2011 to 2017 sessions.
Jenne’s bill received only two House committee references -- ordinarily a good sign -- but no senator has filed the proposal. Even if it passed, it would not have any impact on the upcoming session.
The governor and all three Cabinet members are Republicans, but Jenne, a Democrat, said he’s not motivated by partisanship. He noted that he and his family are long-time personal friends with Jimmy Patronis, the appointed chief financial officer who needs to build a fund-raising fortress because he lacks statewide name recognition and may face a Republican primary challenge from Sen. Tom Lee.