Put this down in the "whatever happened to?" department.
A federal judge has refused to end a lawsuit that then-candidate Rick Scott used to block a key part of Florida’s public campaign finance system.
Scott last summer won a preliminary injunction from a federal appeals court that said the state could not give GOP rival Bill McCollum a dollar-for-dollar match of taxpayer money if Scott spent more than $24.9 million on his campaign.
The ruling was a blow to McCollum’s campaign who could not compete with Scott’s financial edge. Scott won the primary and then went on to spend roughly $73 million to win the governor’s race.
After Scott won the primary, his lawyers and lawyers for the Department of State asked a Tallahassee federal judge for a permanent injunction against the matching money provision.
But U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle in December shot down the request and instead put a hold on the lawsuit while the U.S. Supreme Court decides campaign finance cases from other states.
Hinkle noted that then interim Secretary of State Dawn Roberts had changed her position to fit the viewpoint of Scott.
“There is every reason to believe her change of heart was prompted solely by a good faith analysis of the evolving law in this area,” wrote Hinkle, noting the appeals court injunction. “But it is also true Ms. Roberts’ new position accords with that of the plaintiff – her soon to be new boss. The circumstances raise an issue, at least, over whether the court should act at all, and whether, if the court is going to act, the state’s interest in defending the statute should have independent representation.”
Republicans wanted to end the state’s public finance system entirely, but the amendment that would have removed it from the Florida Constitution was defeated by voters.
Taxpayers wound up spending more than $5.82 million on campaigns in 2010.That amount could have been higher but the combination of the ruling in the Scott case - as well as Alex Sink's decision to decline any public money kept down the overall total.