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Florida Collects Cash for Political Parties

August 3rd, 2018 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida’s two major parties, the Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party just got checks totaling more than half a million dollars each. It’s because of a quirk in state law that has the state acting as a bill collector for the major parties. 

As candidates swarmed into the State Division of Elections to run for something . Most plunked down a hefty bit of cash. Six percent of the annual job  salary.

In House Candidate Emma Collum’s case, it was 1782 dollars. And in a strange twist in state law, a third of the fee, or just under 6 hundred dollars went to the State Democratic Party.

“You know it doesn’t bother me because as a Democrat, I support my party” she told us on the last day of qualifying.

Some, including Rob Weissert of Florida Taxwatch, liken the payments to a licensing fee to use the party label. The law has been on the books for decades.

“In this case, the state is requiring, by law, a certain amount of filing fees, ,collecting that, and turning over a percentage of it to the private political party’s” says Weissert.

Those running with no political affiliation pay just two thirds of the fee.

“It raises the bar for candidates who run in one particular political party for them to qualify for the office. So the state is essentially collecting money on behalf of the party’s”   says the Taxwatch researcher.

Florida Republicans just got a check for 537 thousand. Democrats got more, 586 thousand, reflecting more candidates running, especially for jobs that pay more.

“That’s pursuant to state law. It’s a decision whether or not its a good thing. But it’s not ultimately the same as a tax” says Weissert.

And while the state handed over one point one million dollars to the political parties, it spend 12 million running the Division of Elections.

In addition to sharing qualifying fees, the state just sent three point four million to seven statewide candidates who applied for public funding. That did come from the state treasury.

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