Did Democrats in the Florida House Break Campaign Contribution Rules?

A new controversy is swirling around a quarter of Democrats in the Florida House after inappropriate campaign contributions came to light.

State Reps. Joe Cassello, D-Boynton Beach, Kevin Chambliss, D-Homestead, Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, Michael Gottlieb, D-Davie, Dianne Hart, D-Tampa, Yvonne Hinson, D-Gainesville, Dottie Joseph, D-North Miami, Andrew Learned, D-Brandon, Michelle Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, and David Silvers, D-Palm Beach, took in more than $115,000 between their campaigns and political committees during regular and special sessions in 2021 and 2022.

“Members of the Florida House are prohibited from fundraising during regular and special sessions according to their own House Rule 15.3.

“A member may neither solicit nor accept any campaign contribution during the 60-day regular legislative session or any extended or special session: on the member’s own behalf, on behalf of a political party, on behalf of any organization with respect to which the member’s solicitation is regulated under s. 106.0701, Florida Statutes, or on behalf of a candidate for the House of Representatives; however, a member may contribute to the member’s own campaign,” the rule states.

Data provided by the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee (FHRCC) points to dozens of contributions made benefiting House Democrats on days that clearly fall between the dates of Florida’s annual sessions and special sessions.

Two contributions even appear to break Florida law. Candidates are allowed to receive up to $1,000 from individuals. However, Hart took in $1,000 and then an additional $500 from the same donor.

“It’s ‘rules for thee but not for me’ as far as Florida Democrats are concerned,” the FHRCC said in a statement. “Either they are deliberately breaking the rules, or this is another glaring example of the inept chaos that exists at the Florida Democrat Party.”

Florida House Democrats have been in a tailspin since before former Minority Leader Ramon Alexander, D-Tallahassee. abruptly stepped down after a recent scandal. It will now be up to new Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa. to steer the ship and hold her caucus accountable for following House rules.

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