State Politics

Campaign finance debate turns potty-mouthed

TALLAHASSEE — The debate over Florida’s public campaign financing program turned ugly Thursday when a Republican senator called President Barack Obama “the messiah” and a Democratic colleague chimed in with a vulgar retort.

It didn’t escalate beyond that — they agreed voters should be able to decide whether to get rid of the program that gave statewide candidates more than $11 million in taxpayer money during the 2006 elections. The Senate Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee unanimously approved putting a proposal to repeal the public campaign financing program on the 2010 ballot.

Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, defended the debate.

“People in Florida also voted for the president, who said he would stick with public financing and then failed to keep his word and didn’t honor his word,” Storms said.

She then took a swipe at Democrats and Obama. “They don’t want to talk about the messiah having a flaw, but actually it was a flaw,” she said.

Sen. Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican who chairs the committee, told Storms, “Please be respectful of the president. ... He is the president of this country.”

Then Smith had his say.

“My concerns weren’t that we debate President Obama or things that he’s doing,” Smith said. “Don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining.”

Fasano immediately scolded Smith.

“I think you’re way out of line,” Fasano said.

“Join the club,” Smith responded.