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Florida legislators' secret funds

The Lakeland, FL, Ledger

Florida legislators, who used a campaign finance law loophole to raise more than $1 million in secret over the last four years, have finally disclosed most of the names of those contributors since the New York Times Regional Newspapers first reported the secret fund-raising two months ago.

But most legislators handed over the names of contributors to the press and not to state election officials -- meaning that the general public still cannot see who is giving large amounts of money to their elected officials.

Senate President Jim King, RJacksonville, vowed again on Wednesday that legislators would change state law during the 2004 session to end the ability of lawmakers to shield the names of their contributors.

"We will make changes that bring about uniformity, clarity and identification of donors," said King.

Published reports in late September pointed out that since 1999 legislators had used campaign finance laws to create socalled "committees of continuous existence" that legislators were using to bankroll their bids for Senate president, House speaker and other legislative leadership posts. Nearly $3 million had been raised for these CCEs during the four-year period.