Senate President Mike Haridopolos is expected to announce a significant fundraising haul since he jumped into the race for U.S. Senate.
The 2011 first quarter numbers for federal candidates is due by the end of the week.
Haridopolos held a series of fundraisers before session, but said recently that he stopped holding them once session started in March. An earlier post relayed an exchange about his fundraising activities and his contention that he follows the law when it comes to fundraising.
That post discussed a federal court ruling from Georgia that has been cited in the past by candidates - both Republican and Democrat - to justify raising money for federal races during session. It was also pointed out that an attorney for the Florida House raised questions about the ruling, but said it was ok for House members to raise money for federal races because House rules specifically exempt federal candidates.
After asking about it several weeks earlier, the Senate on Friday produced its own legal opinion regarding the matter that is dated from 2008.
So to be fair here's the basic premise of that opinion.
Jason Vail, then the general counsel for the Florida Senate, wrote a letter to then-Sen. Bill Posey who had asked about raising money for his Congressional bid during session.
Vail's essential opinion is that Congress own federal campaign laws supersede any state laws and he cites both a 1993 opinion and the 1996 ruling from the federal appeals court in Atlanta previously mentioned.
Vail acknowledges that the 1996 ruling, known as Teper v. Miller, may have "possible weaknesses" but he goes on to say that people are entitled to rely on advisory opinions from the Federal Election Commission and that the commission has concluded that federal law preempted the Georgia law that prohibited state legislators from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions during legislative session.
Vail acknowledges that the Georgia case involved a law and that "the main difference is that in our case, a Senate rule is involved rather than a state statute." Vail then cites a 1979 case that says federal preemption can operate against state rules "therefore I do not consider the distinction to be meaningful."
Bottom line by Vail: The federal government trumps Senate rules and that candidates for federal office are under no obligation to follow them.