It turns out that Rick Scott, the Naples businessman running against Attorney General Bill McCollum in the GOP primary for governor, may not be the only candidate this year who turns down "welfare for politicians."
With just days left before the state hands out its first round of public campaign financing, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has yet to turn in the paperwork that would make her eligible for matching money.
Last month the Democratic candidate for governor did agree to abide by the campaign spending limit of $24.9 million - and she made the initial request for matching funds in her race for governor.
But even back then her campaign made it clear that no final decision had been made about whether to actually accept the money.
And that appears to still be the case as of now.
Under the law, the first round of matching money is for contributions that candidates received from Florida residents between Sept. 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010. In order to receive this money, candidates must submit a list of contributions that they wish to have matched.
A spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's office on Monday confirmed that Sink has not done this. If Sink's campaign fails to turn in documentation by noon on Friday, then the campaign will not receive any money this week although the campaign has the right to claim matching money for these initial contributions later.
Sink's campaign has not responded to questions as to whether or not the CFO plans to officially ask for matching money.
Sink's decision, of course, comes as Scott is trying to get a federal court to throw out the part of Florida's public financing system that gives a dollar for dollar match if a rival exceeds campaign spending limits. Scott lost his first bid last week, but his attorneys appealed the ruling to a federal appeals court in Atlanta. McCollum intervened in the lawsuit and his own attorneys have said that if McCollum does not get the matching money it could "tip" the outcome of the GOP primary since Scott is spending millions of his own money.
Sink, by contrast, has not asked to intervene in the case. But that didn't stop U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle from asking a pivotal question during last week's hearing. Hinkle wanted to know what happens if Scott does as expected and blows through the spending cap before the primary. Hinkle asked lawyers representing the Secretary of State's office whether other candidates - and he mentioned Sink by name - would be eligible for the dollar for dollar match now as well. Or Hinkle inquired further, would Sink and others have to wait after the primary? Hinkle said it appeared to him that the law regarding this matter was vague.
The lawyers for the Secretary of State couldn't answer the question. They noted that there was only one other time the spending limits been exceeded and that no one had really contemplated the limit being breached during the primary. (That one previous time, of course, was the 1994 election between Jeb Bush and Gov. Lawton Chiles. It was Bush, who is endorsing McCollum, who repeatedly called the state's public financing system "welfare for politicians.")
But while the lawsuit rages on this remains a key question for Sink's campaign to consider especially since everyone agrees the spending limit applies to the entire election and not just the primary.
Is it fair for McCollum to get money now, use it to beat Scott and deny Sink the same amount of matching money for the general election? Or if Scott wins the primary, does Sink only get a match of what he spends after he defeats McCollum?
What Sink does in the days ahead could be one of the most important of her entire campaign.