Wednesday, September 29, 2010

October 4: Vote No On Florida's Amendment 1

By Sylvia Gurinsky

So-called "people power" aside, the 2010 election has been turning into the best seats money can buy.

Ever since last winter's atrocious United States Supreme Court ruling opening the moneybags of big corporations wide in political campaigns, the spending in this election has threatened to dwarf the record set in 2008.

Even the so-called "outsiders" running for office this year are people with money and influence. It's still a very difficult road for the ordinary person who wants to run.

That's one reason Florida voters should say "No" to Amendment 1, which would repeal the provision in the Florida Constitution - approved by voters in 1998 - that requires public financing of campaigns by candidates who agree to spending limits.

This was approved in a reform-minded atmosphere - and in the waning days of the leadership of Gov. Lawton Chiles, who set a standard for not spending big money.

Naturally, the Florida Legislature has done mischief with the measure, hiking the spending limit from $5 million to $25 million in 2005 and effectively shutting out non-wealthy candidates.

The provision needs a lot of fixing, and that may need to be done in future ballot measures by petition - or by a lot of public pressure on the legislature and whoever becomes governor.

Many elected officials and would-be elected officials who want to spend big money and see this go away are giving the current budget crisis as an excuse for doing so.

If anything, eliminating public financing will put candidates for public office even more in the hands of wealthy special interests, and disconnect them even more from the people.

That's why Floridians should vote No on Amendment 1.

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