State Sen. Bill Galvano is a money magnet, ranking quite high on the list of legislators whose political committees rake in the cash.
Florida’s new campaign finance law allows lawmakers to form those organizations and deposit checks in any amount; limits are gone.
As Mary Ellen Klas, capital bureau chief for the Miami Herald, reported Sunday, Galvano’s political committee collected $745,974 from November 2012 to Feb. 26 of this year.
The Bradenton Republican’s total ranks second in the state. Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, took top honors with $1,114,650.
Negron is one of the candidates for the Senate presidency after the 2016 elections. Galvano has been mentioned as a contender for the 2018 chamber presidency.
Sen. Jack Latvala, a Republican from Pinellas County, sits in third place in contributions with $674,990. Interestingly, Latvala is Negron’s major opponent for Senate leadership in 2016.
GOP legislators have been known to spend that money to support the campaigns of Republican Senate candidates — in exchange for a pledge to support chamber presidency aspirations.
Galvano appears well-endowed for that effort, years ahead of any bid for the post. He has already been confirmed as collecting pledge cards from fellow GOP senators.
A highly esteemed, skilled and veteran lawmaker, Galvano would bring a strong record to the top leadership post.
Last year the GOP-controlled Legislature altered campaign finance laws, eliminating the much-abused Committees of Continuous Existence. The new political committees have been attracting a flood of cash, raising new concerns about the influence of special interest groups.
But Floridians can more easily follow the money under the new law, which requires monthly reporting of contributions instead of the previous requirement of every three months.
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel and the architect of the new law, denied the idea of influence peddling in Klas’ report. “ ... I would say members make decisions based on their beliefs and their values and the people who reflect those values tend to be the people that support you.”
We can only hope that is the case.