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13 posts from February 21, 2013

February 21, 2013

Broward GOP interim chair surprised that chair quit

When  Broward GOP chair Rico Petrocelli fired off a letter Tuesday saying he was quitting due  to "irreconcilable differences" with the board, vice chair Christine Butler said she was surprised and that he didn't discuss it with the board first. 

"That is his characterization," she said. "I would not have said that. I didn't really feel that was an appropriate description. ... We are a new board. We have only had a couple of meetings."

Petrocelli quitting after such a short amount of time during a political off-season suggests general personality or management conflicts -- not tensions over supporting any particular candidate or tea party vs. moderate divisions.

Petrocelli was elected without opposition in December after failed Congressional candidate Karen Harrington dropped out. He has not elaborated on his reasons for quitting. Petrocelli has taken some hits in the press for a state ethics fine and a bankruptcy filing but both occurred before he sought the chair position.

Butler, a lawyer from Davie, will now serve as interim chair and said she may run for the post. The Broward Republican Executive Committee will hold an election within 60 days -- possibly at their next scheduled meeting March 18th. No word yet on whether they will allow the press inside to cover the event that could include airing some internal strife (the group allowed the press in 2010 but barred them in 2012.)

102 y/o Desiline Victor to get voting-rights bill naming honors

From an Advancement Project press release:

As an answer to fixing Florida’s flawed election system, State Senator Oscar Braynon, along with civil rights organizations Florida New Majority and Advancement Project, are joining North Miami resident Desiline Victor to introduce a bill that will protect and improve the right to vote in Florida.

Sen. Braynon’s SB 888 – Desiline’s Free and Fair Democracy Act – helps modernize the state’s voting system and enshrines the fundamental right to vote into state law.

The event is at the North Miami Public Library, where Ms. Victor, age 102, was forced to stand in line for hours before being able to cast her ballot. Her story became national news when Advancement Project brought her to the attention of the White House, after the organization discovered her during her struggle to vote. President Barack Obama recounted her voting experience during the recent State of the Union address, as Ms. Victor received a standing ovation from lawmakers while sitting in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box.

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House beefs up regulators as it keeps campaign finance bill moving

Despite a shower of complaints from Democrats, another House committee approved a bill to revamp how money is channeled in political elections and raised the budget to add state regulators to monitor the process. 

The House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines to approve a bill the will eliminate the controversial Committees of Continuing Existence, raise the cap on contributions form $500 to $10,000 and allow up to $100,000 to be transferred from committees and candiates to other committees and candidates.

The committee amended the bill to provide three additional staff to the Secretary of State’s office to monitor the increased reporting requirements in the bill. Under the plan, political committees and candidates would be required to submit daily reports on their contributions during the last 10 days of the election cycle. Political parties, which would be allowed to continue accepting unlimited checks any time during the campaign cycle, would be exempt from the accelerated transparency requirement.

The bill “brings the greatest transparency to the political world in the United States,’’ said Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, the sponsor of the bill.

Democrats, however, disagreed the bill will result in true reform. They tried and failed to amend the bill to lower the campaign contribution cap back to the existing level of $500 and to allow organizations such as unions, who make multiple small contributions, to consolidate their contributions under the reporting requirements.

“Unfortunately the end result will be the same game with a different name,’’ said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. "With this language, we’re going to approve a volume -- millions on a monthly basis -- of individual donor information that is leading to us increasing the dollars we spend at the department of state to basically handle the bill."

Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, the newly elected Democratic leader for 2014, echoed those concerns. “This bill does not go far enough,’’ he said.

Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said she was personally uncomfortable with a provision in the bill that allows candidates and political committees to retain $100,000 in their campaign accounts for the next election.

“That doesn’t speak for fair elections. It speaks to incumbency protection,’’ she said.

Republicans countered that there is already unlimited campaign cash in the system but transparency is needed.

“The United States Supreme Court  has decided that contributiong to political parties is a form of free speech,’’ said Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando. “What we’re doing is a great step in the right direction, especially the transparency requirements.”