Florida Democrats Change Bylaws on Check Writing
Some of Florida’s top Republicans cut up their credit cards a few weeks ago in a public mea culpa after reports emerged about lavish spending by former House Speaker Ray Sansom.
Now, state Democrats have overhauled their financing -- giving Florida Chair Karen Thurman a bigger say in party spending.
The rewrite of Democratic bylaws allows Thurman to approve spending as much as $25,000 without needing a second signature on the check. Spending that tops $25,000 will require Thurman’s signature and that of a designated member of the party’s budget and finance committee.
Democratic officials say the rewrite simply updates rules that date to 1986, which are now outdated and cumbersome, given the party’s enhanced role in television ad-buying and other big campaign spending.
The move, though, was approved over opposition from Treasurer Alma Gonzalez and Democratic National Committee member Jon Ausman, who warned the party’s shaky financial history suggests the party needs stricter oversight.
The Federal Elections Commission has recently launched an audit of the Florida Democratic Party, prompted by concerns about federal spending reports filed in last year’s campaigns. State Democrats also were fined $200,000 last year for election law violations by a committee organized by Democratic lawmakers.
The rules rewrite was approved at the conclusion of last weekend’s party conference by the Democratic Executive Committee. The party’s earlier standard required both the chair and party treasurer to formally approve any checks that exceeded $5,000.
Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff said he felt Democratic oversight was still superior to that of rival Republicans.
“Credit cards are never going to be an option here,” Jotkoff said.