19 April 2005

Florida GOP: Ethics rules don't apply

Senate President Tom Lee (R-Brandon) has made cracking down on the influence of money in the legislative process one of his top priorities. Under a number of new rules, he has stiffened the penalties on members of the Florida Senate who violate the chamber's rules pertaining to fundraising and accepting gifts from lobbyists. One change to an existing rule is that Senate members can no longer raise money for political parties during the legislative session. Unfortunately, one GOP member has violated this rule, but apparently, the new rules don't apply to Republicans.

As first reported Saturday by the Palm Beach Post, Senator Carey Baker (R-Eustis) violated Senate rules by allowing his name, along with Representative Larry Cretul (R-Gainesville), to appear on a fundraising letter for the Republican Party of Alachua County. On Friday, April 22nd, the Alachua County GOP is holding its annual fundraiser, the Lincoln Dinner. Senator Baker stated that he didn't intend to violate the rule and was awaiting a ruling from the Senate General Counsel on how to proceed.

Senate Rule 1.361(1) states that "[d]uring any regular legislative session, extended session, or special session, a Senator may not directly or indirectly solicit, cause to be solicited, or accept any contribution on behalf of either the Senator's own campaign, any organization described under section 527 or section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, any political committee, any committee of continuous existence, any political party, or the campaign of any candidate for the Senate[.]" (emphasis added)

According to today's Palm Beach Post, Senator Baker will not be appearing at Friday's Alachua County GOP Lincoln Dinner, and he will not receive any punishment. Still, the senator authorized his name to appear on the invitation, and money was raised. The rule has clearly been violated, and nothing is being done. This would not be a big deal if this were an isolated case. Unfortunately, the rules have been enforced when the guilty member has been a Democrat.

Last Thursday, the Florida Senate reprimanded one of its members for a violation of the chamber's rules. Senator M. Mandy Dawson (D-Fort Lauderdale) was publicly rebuked and stripped of a committee assignment for violating rules pertaining to fundraising. She too claimed that her violation was not intentional.

Senator Lee should be commended for his desire to clean up the political process in the Florida Legislature. He should, however, consistently apply these rules to all members of the senate. Republicans should not get any special privileges, and they should never be treated as if they are above the law.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

TOM Delay, TOM Lee. What is it with these Republican Toms that think they don't have to follow the rules that apply to everyone else?

12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Total hypocrisy James. Reminds me of the time the GOP used to make an issue out of Clinton's libido, until it turned out that three Conservative Congressional leaders were also having affairs. Then the issue became "lying under oath".

I'll be glad to link to this feature to. Your readers can enjoy more hypocrisy at:

GOP Hypocrisy

1:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where is the democratic leadership? why aren't they making a stink out of this?

1:47:00 PM  

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