College of Social Sciences


Press Release: Tough Choices: Best Practices in Campaign Finance and Public Access to Information

For Immediate Release Contact: Lindsay Potvin
February 10, 2014 lindsay@coremessage.com
(850)222-3767

“Tough Choices” report finds Florida can improve upon campaign finance disclosure

LeRoy Collins Institute and Integrity Florida release in-depth analysis of Florida’s campaign finance website and disclosure policies compared to other states

Tallahassee, Fla. – The LeRoy Collins Institute (LCI) and Integrity Florida, today, released the latest installment in the Tough Choices report series: Tough Choices: Best Practices in Campaign Finance and Public Access to Information. The report, an in-depth analysis of Florida’s campaign finance policies compared to other states in the U.S., found that Florida’s 2013 reform legislation set the right path, but more can be done to improve transparency.

“Through this research and report we hope to make Floridians aware of what state-level campaign finance information is available and how accessible it is compared to the rest of the country,” said Dr. Carol Weissert, LCI director, political science professor at Florida State University and co-author of the report. “Florida is dedicated to being an open-government state and while we had success in 2013 with campaign finance reforms, there’s still work that can be done to enhance transparency.”

Even with campaign finance reforms passed in 2013, spearheaded by House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz, Florida still lags behind other states in campaign finance transparency according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics (NIMSP). After reviewing the NIMSP criteria and the campaign finance practices of other states, Tough Choices: Best Practices in Campaign Finance and Public Access to Information outlines several steps Florida can take to improve competitiveness on national report cards and enhance public access to campaign finance information:

• Improve campaign finance data quality and ease of public access online. Florida could offer campaign finance data in multiple formats, offer data visualization features and allow for social media connectivity.
• Require independent expenditures to include the target issue or candidate in their campaign finance reports.
• Require electioneering communications to include details about whether expenditures are in support of or opposition to a candidate or issue.

"I am proud of our progress in making Florida's campaign finance reporting system more transparent through stricter reporting requirements," said House Speaker Will Weatherford. "We can always do more to increase transparency and accountability, and I appreciate the LeRoy Collins Institute's and Integrity Florida's thoughtful suggestions."

“A key component of campaign finance transparency is providing access to information for Floridians,” said Dan Krassner, Integrity Florida’s executive director and co-author of the report. “In the report, we seek to provide Florida policymakers with options to make it easier for the public to follow money in politics, particularly through improvements to the state’s campaign finance disclosure website.”

The report ranks Maine, Kentucky, Washington and Hawaii among the nation’s best in campaign finance disclosure and considered many of these state’s policies when making recommendations.

The Tougher Choices 2014 report can be accessed at http://fla.st/1lp3Xbj. For more information about this report and others published by the LeRoy Collins Institute and Integrity Florida, please visit www.collinsinstitute.fsu.edu.

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The LeRoy Collins Institute:
Established in 1988, the LeRoy Collins Institute is an independent, non-profit organization which studies and promotes creative solutions to key private and public issues facing the people of Florida and the nation. The Institute, located in Tallahassee at the Florida State University, is affiliated and works in collaboration with the State University System of Florida. Named in honor of former Florida Governor LeRoy Collins, the Institute is governed by a distinguished board of directors, chaired by Allison DeFoor, D. Min. Other board members include executives, local elected officials and senior professionals from throughout the state.

Integrity Florida:
Integrity Florida is a nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption. The organization's vision is government in Florida that is the most open, ethical, responsive and accountable in the world.