Other lawmakers make no apologies.
“It’s efficient fundraising,” said Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, who has a Tuesday fundraiser at the private Governor’s Club. “We’re up there at taxpayer expense, but we do have some downtime that belongs to us.”
Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka, is attending a joint Monday fundraiser at the Governor’s Club with fellow Republicans Rep. Janet Adkins of Fernandina Beach, Reps. Charles McBurney and Lake Ray of Jacksonville, Rep. Ronald Renuart of Ponte Vedra Beach and Rep. Elizabeth Porter of Lake City.
Only Ray has a committee meeting that day.
Van Zant said he has a committee meeting Tuesday morning and didn’t want to drive in early that day. Monday’s fundraiser won’t distract him from his duties, he said.
“That fundraiser will be two hours of the total time that I’ll be there,” Van Zant said. “I will go to my committee meetings and take copious notes and process what’s said. I’m there to attend committee meetings.
“But I don’t want you to think there’s anything wrong with committee week,” said Van Zant, who has raised $42,000 for a 2014 race that has no challenger yet. “This is part of American politics. You should be proud that we have this freedom and can get out and campaign.”
Altogether, the House has scheduled 27 committee meetings from Tuesday to Thursday. On Monday, there’s a joint audit committee meeting with the Senate, which has scheduled 19 meetings from Monday to Thursday.
Told about Fasano’s misgivings about committee week, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford responded with a robust defense of free speech.
“Unless the U.S. Supreme Court changes its current view that contributing to campaigns is a First Amendment right, then every political campaign from tax collector to the U.S. president will hold fundraisers in their pursuit of elected office,” he said in an email. “As speaker, I have worked to add more transparency and accountability to the process within the confines of the Constitution.”