Ethics groups counter that the timely disclosure of the mega-checks will allow the public to keep politicians accountable for their campaign cash. But the proposal has holes. For example, it does not require donors to name which candidate or campaign their money is intended to help. Krassner said that is because unions and trade groups collect money without knowing which candidate will ultimately get it.
Integrity Florida’s proposal would keep two kinds of political committees: the political action committees, which can be formed by trade associations as well as candidates to pay for candidate expenses, and the electioneering and communications organizations which pay for television ads, mailers and other campaign expenses allowed under federal law.
Only four states give candidates the right to receive unlimited campaign cash from any source: Virginia, Utah, Oregon and, most recently, Missouri. Other states allow for unlimited contributions to candidates, but some, like Texas, bar unlimited contributions from corporations.
Most of those states have experienced mixed results. In Missouri, which lifted its campaign finance limits in 2008, had the sixth most expensive election season of any state in 2012, according to the National Institute on Money in Politics. The change also allowed mega donors to play a super-sized role in Missouri elections as one individual who opposes the state income tax, St. Louis businessman Rex Sinquefield, donated $20 million to state and local campaigns over four years.
That worries, Rod Smith, chairman of the Democratic Party of Florida. He said he has not studied the proposals but remains hopeful that a proposal can be found to limit money in campaign accounts.
“I don’t want to just go to transparency and throw my hands up and say there is no way to have meaningful limitations,’’ said Smith who is retiring as party chairman next weekend. “I hope we don’t give up looking for more difficult solutions.”