Couple Higher Campaign Contribution Limits With Transparency



Florida’s $500-per-donor campaign contribution limit has been the law for 20 years and State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla wants it to change.

A bill filed by Diaz de la Portilla, D-Miami, that increases the limits has passed its first hurtle.


Miguel Diaz de la Portilla

Diaz de la Portilla’s bill doesn’t go far enough.  He needs to couple higher limits with complete, rapid transparency where contributions are listed almost immediately on the Internet.

His bill would raise the limits dramatically to:

  • Up to $10,000 to a candidate for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, or any political committee supporting or opposing only such candidates. The bill maintains that candidates for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor are considered a single candidate for the purpose of this section.


  • Up to $5,000 to a candidate for statewide office other than Governor and Lieutenant Governor, or any political committee supporting or opposing only such candidates (such as a candidate for Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, or Commissioner of Agriculture).


  • Up to $2,500 to a candidate for legislative or multicounty office, or any political committee supporting or opposing only such candidates.


  • Up to $1,000 to a candidate for countywide office or any election conducted on a less than countywide basis; a candidate for county court judge or circuit judge; a candidate for retention as a judge of a district court of appeal or as a justice of the Supreme Court; or any political committee supporting or opposing only such candidates.


This bill is a nightmare for lobbyists.  They will be pressured to raise the extra money from their clients.

Can you image asking for $10,000 for a governor’s campaign from each client?  From each client, their spouse and their many corporations?

One member of a large lobbying firm predicted a lot of grumbling from his colleagues about the proposed higher limits.

“When the limits were passed (in 1991), we sat around and cheered.  This would not be welcome, he said.

Strangely, Diaz de la Portilla is a law partner at Hollywood-based Becker Poliakoff, a firm with major lobbying clients.

The higher limits would free candidates from some of the pressures of fund raising, allowing them more time to spend with average voters and discuss issues,  Diaz de la Portilla told the subcommittee Monday.

He actually said this with a straight face!

Diaz de la Portilla said the current limits were outmoded because political committees can raise any amount from a single contributor.  Some committees would have limits under the bill.

It is interesting to me that the bill was sponsored by Diaz de la Portilla, whose politics was forged in the special-interest crucible of the Miami-Dade County Commission where he served for years.  This is his first term.

More Transparency Needed

I personally believe campaign contributions are too low.  Any increase, however, should be coupled with the requirement for total, rapid transparency.

The wait until the end of each quarter to see who’s giving money should be ended. Contributions should be required to be posted on the Internet within days of being received.

Elections Supervisors, especially in small counties, will oppose an Internet requirement as an unfunded mandate.

Too bad.  Sometimes progress costs money. Once the system is in place it won’t cost much.

Only Colorado, Connecticut, and Maine have lower campaign contribution limits than Florida.  Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Virginia have no limit on campaign contributions.

The bill passed the Rule Subcommittee on Ethics and Elections yesterday.  It has a long way to go.

It must still be approved by the Rules Committee and the Budget Committee before reaching the full Senate.  It has no House companion bill, which may prove a problem.

6 Responses to “Couple Higher Campaign Contribution Limits With Transparency”

  1. David Brown says:

    While I oppose higher campaign contribution limits, and what self-respecting republican legislator would have the guts to oppose them, they should add the following to the law:
    1) Elected officials at all levels should not be allowed to solicit or accept any contributions during the first half of their term. They would actually be free to represent their constituents and special interests would be kept at bay at least for a short period. (A compromise would be to only allow elected officials to accept contributions up to $100 per individual or entity for the first half of their term.) Challengers would not be restricted as it would serve to even out the benefit of incumbency that would become apparent when electeds did start raising money.
    2) Immediate internet reporting is needed but contributions should end the Wednesday before the election (not Thursday) and must be reported on the internet by noon on Thursday. It will discourage last minute contributions that tend to fund last minute attacks and give the subject of last minute negative attacks at least some opportunity to respond. (How about outlawing negative attacks from shadow or non-disclosed groups.)
    3) Require the internet disclosure of who delivered multiple contributions to the candidate, campaign or fundraising event (bundled the contributions).

  2. Gerry Saunders says:

    The requirement should be for candidates to file the information to a website that they would have access to. That would put the burden on candidates.

    For candidates who don’t have access to a computer, a laptop should be provided for the length of the campaign along with instructions. Or the candidate could come to the supervisor’s office and they would imput it.

  3. Public Financing of Campaigns says:

    So long as private companies and individuals help fund candidate campaigns there will be an impossible to overcome appearance of impropriety. There will be continued suspicion that there is a quid pro quo.

    It is unreasonable to expect that many candidates will be in a position self-fund their own campaigns. Restrictions there are also important because otherwise only the elite will be able to represent the people by buying their way into office. Freedom of Speech may prevent government from enacting laws that address these concerns.

    But government may establish rules that restrict candidates from accepting certain campaign funds, that limit how much of their own money they can use, and that make campaigns fair based on some showing from the public that they support those candidates. The government can also establish public financing of campaigns which is probably the purest way to pay for campaign related expenses.

    Either of these or any combination would produce a more trusted system of campaign finance than we have today. But if we keep making it harder to run much less serve in office soon we will run out of quality people willing to make the sacrifice.

    It’s not that we don’t know how to solve our problems, it’s that we simply refuse to solve them.

  4. Floridan says:

    When you have self-funded candidates such as Rick Scott and Meg Whitman, what does it matter what the limits might be?

    FROM BUDDY: These limits involve local candidates, not only a candidate for governor.

  5. Floridan says:

    Buddy, it is my understanding that the courts have ruled that candidates may spend their own money, without limits, on their own campaign. I don’t believe this is limited to those running for governor.

    FROM BUDDY: You are right.

  6. Floridan says:

    Let me make it clear, however, that I think raising the contribution limit is not going to have a positive effect on governence or the quality of candidates.