There is rich irony to Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran deriding “welfare for politicians” and “the insider political class” in his call to eliminate Florida’s beleaguered public campaign financing system. He is, after all, the ultimate example of Tallahassee’s political class whose lifestyle has been subsidized for most of his adult life by either taxpayers or special interest campaign donors.
But Corcoran’s main rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam – no slouch in the political insider department himself – happens to be a walking, talking argument for critics to use against Florida’s public campaign financing system should go. In 2014, the self described fiscal conservative lapped up nearly $460,000 in taxpayer funded public financing money even though Putnam more or less ran unopposed for reelection, facing a no-name, no-money, no party-support, no-chance Democratic challenger named Thaddeus Hamilton.
“This is a gross waste of taxpayer money and is nothing more than welfare for politicians. All it does is protect the insider political class,” Corcoran said of of proposal to the Constitution Revision Commission without directly calling out Corcoran. “You really have to be clueless or just plain selfish to accept money from our state coffers that could go to our schoolchildren, first responders, or be put back in the pockets of our taxpayers. This proposal is simply about doing the right thing.”
Putnam’s campaign sounds like he intends to use public financing again as he runs for governor.
“Adam Putnam opposes the use of taxpayer dollars for political campaigns, but the liberal, billionaire activists, like Tom Steyer and George Soros, will stop at nothing to buy the Florida Governor’s office for the Democratic Party, and it is critical that campaigns compete on a level playing field,” his campaign spokeswoman said
Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum criticized Corcoran’s proposal:
“Speaker Corcoran is misguided and misses the mark. Not only was this exact measure already rejected by the voters in 2010, it fails to address the real problems with campaign finance here in Florida and post-Citizens United. Floridians want to have a real voice in their campaigns, and we have too much corporate money and too little transparency right now. But of course, Speaker Corcoran has been doing the bidding of corporate special interest for years and his political committee is directly benefiting from their donations, all the while presiding over the least transparent legislative session in our lifetime.”