Florida Must Stop the Suppression of Political Competition

(Sent to all Florida Legislators and the Governor’s Office in February 2014)

Political competition is a principle that lies at the heart of good government.  The right to associate with others as one sees fit, to be a party candidate, to organize, present and support political candidates that represent a particular point of view, and to have these rights protected in the law directly benefit all citizens as well as the state.   It leads to better government and gives voice to the people.  It is an inherent part of what makes America great.

 The Government of the State of Florida has implemented laws that limit these rights.  These laws favor large political parties in the electoral process over smaller ones.  This reduces the number of choices before the public and is a misuse of the law.  We ask you, our representatives in government, to address these wrongs and set in motion actions that return unbiased competition to the State of Florida.

Eliminate the 365 Day Rule for candidates

 FS 99.021 (1) (b) 2. requires potential candidates of any political party to swear or affirm that they have not been a member of another political party for 365 days prior to the beginning of the qualifying period for the office they seek. This requirement impinges on the Constitutional right of every American to free association with others, and blocks off routes of free expression in the electoral process by both limiting the ability of candidates to change political parties as they see fit, and for people to support candidates in the way they want.  FS99.021 (2) may affect the executive committees of political parties as well, since it says this rule, “shall apply with equal force and effect to, and shall be the oath required of, a candidate for election to a political party executive committee office, as provided by law.”  It strikes at the heart of any organized political opposition by forcing converts from other political parties to wait at least one year before being allowed by law to become active in another party.  It is not the role of the State, controlled by two major parties, to limit which political party a person belongs to, or to set time limits on their participation, and thereby affect or reduce the number of political competitors.

 Return the power of all political parties to determine who are, or are not, their candidates in non-primary races  

 In 2007 the Florida Legislature passed PL 2007-30 which deleted sections of FS 99.096 from the law. This deleted section allowed minor parties to submit lists of approved party candidates for inclusion in state ballots.   This change had the effect of removing the ability of all political parties to be the sole determinant of who would represent them on an election ballot if there were no primary election for that party.  As it stands now, if a candidate can afford the ballot fees and they are the only declared party candidate, that person can have their name on the ballot under any political party name without the approval of that party.  Unlike the two major parties, the vast majority of minor parties can only present one candidate per position on any given ballot, mainly due to costs and available candidates.  Should a self- declared and qualified candidate be unacceptable to the party membership, the only way to stop that person from representing the party on the ballot is to produce a primary election contender.  As has already been said, this is beyond the resources of most minor parties.  What was just in the law has been made an invitation to political mischief and a trampling of the rights of all party members, major and minor alike, to determine who represents them.

Eliminate the Special Privilege of Republican or Democrat Committeemen being on the General Ballot

 FS 103.091 (4) gives the exclusive privilege to major party Committeemen to be on the general election ballot every four years while specifically excluding minor party representatives.  Not only does this law give special ballot privileges to the major parties, it also has the effect of advertising the major parties, for partisan political purposes, at the cost of the taxpayer.  There is no way the Legislature can claim it is unbiased when it passes laws such as this.

 Eliminate the Election Campaign Financing Trust Fund

 The Florida Legislature enacted FS 106.29 through 106.36 to implement the Election Campaign Financing Trust Fund, a fund composed of contributions from the State general revenues where Gubernatorial and Cabinet candidates (only) can seek matching funds for their campaigns.  Intended to help reduce the influence of money in the political process for high office, a candidate for Governor must first accrue $150,000 in contributions and a Cabinet officer $100,000 to be considered eligible for the fund.  The likely candidates to reach such lofty thresholds are major party members.  This fund has the effect of subsidizing major parties that already hold advantages in fundraising under the guise of trying to reduce the effect of money on campaigns.

 Rein In the Florida Election Commission

  The Florida Election Commission is entrusted with the administration and enforcement of laws related to regulating political parties in the State.  However, this duty cannot be executed without the reasonable oversight of the legislature.  It can, and has, been used to stifle political opposition.  A case in point: the Libertarian Party of Florida was fined $70,000 after the 2012 general elections for allegedly not filing $1700 in campaign donations with the State.  Although the LPF was in constant communication with the Department of State as to the proper filing procedures, and followed its recommendations to the letter, the Party was still fined and forced to find legal counsel for a hearing that took place six months later.  Given their resources, this is no matter for the major parties, but this substantial fine would hinder political planning at all levels for a minor party until a definitive ruling was arrived at.  The LPF was completely exonerated, but only through exceptional legal efforts that most minor parties could not afford.  Excessive fines and aloof bureaucrats can actually stop political competition through the mindless and indifferent application of the law.

 The undersigned ask you, our representatives in government, to address these inequities, and return free and equal competition to our state.


America’s   Party of Florida

1894   Glenwood Street NE

Palm Bay,   FL 32907-0000

Phone: (321)   729-0881


Gregory   Poulos, Chair

Franklin   Shoemaker, Treasurer



Constitution   Party of Florida

16874 –   131st Way North

Jupiter,   FL 33478-0000

Phone:   (561) 741-7592

Mark   Pilling, Chair

Lois   McLain, Treasurer



Ecology   Party of Florida

641 SW   6th Avenue

Fort   Lauderdale, FL 33315-0000

Phone:   (888) 462-2468

Cara   Campbell, Chair

Gary   Hecker, Treasurer



Florida   Pirate Party

15620   Younis Road West

Jacksonville,   FL 32218-0000

Phone:   (904) 701-2348


Bradley   Hall, Chair

Carlo De   Leonibus, Treasurer


Green   Party of Florida

GreenParty of Florida
2301 NE 6th Avenue
Miami, FL 33137-4922


Jennifer   Sullivan, Chair

Kurt   Gratzol, Treasurer


Independence   Party of Florida

Post   Office Box 2206

Riverview,   FL 33568-0000

Phone:   (813) 671-3122

Peter   Allen, Chair

Shauna   Ayers, Treasurer


Independent   Party of Florida

700   Starkey Road

Building   300, Suite 365

Largo, FL   33771-2334

Phone:   (727) 585-1111

Ernest   Bach, Chair

John   Leitgeb, Treasurer



Libertarian   Party of Florida

1334   Tampa Road, Suite 2

Palm   Harbor, FL 34683-0000

Phone:   (727) 403-7735


Dana   Cummings, Chair

Danielle   Alexandre, Treasurer


Reform   Party

3948   South 3rd Street

Box 183

Jacksonville   Beach, FL 32250-0000

William   Dopf, Chair

William Drummond,   Treasurer



Tea   Party of Florida

1420   Celebration Boulevard

Suite 200

Celebration,   FL 34747-0000

Phone:   (407) 566-2422

John   Long, Chair

Donald   Baehr, Treasurer