Last month, several state lawmakers were elected, or re-elected, without opposition. Offering congratulations and well wishes to this new crop of legislators is Orlando Democratic state Sen. Geraldine Thompson.
But that’s not all.
Thompson has been busy leaving messages on answering machines across the state: “Hello, this is Senator Geraldine Thompson calling to congratulate you on being elected without opposition …”
However, what she says next brings up a serious concern.
You see, many of those receiving calls have campaign coffers filled with unused cash.
And as a candidate for Congress, Thompson follows her greeting – good intention, no doubt – with a fundraising pitch to support her federal campaign.
In a nutshell, she asks unopposed state lawmakers to give her campaign some of those leftover funds.
According to state statutes, that is clearly illegal.
Florida law is rather specific about what candidates elected without opposition can – and cannot – do with excess funds. One of those things they cannot do is give to other candidates.
What’s more, Florida law also explicitly prohibits state candidates from giving campaign contributions to ANY candidate, which includes federal candidates such as Thompson.
To be fair, Thompson has built a reputation in the Florida Senate as an ethical, smart and hardworking lawmaker, something that will serve her well now that she is a candidate for Congress.
Whoever counseled Thompson to make these calls – asking newly elected/re-elected lawmakers for illegal campaign contributions – is giving her bad, potentially harmful, advice.
For the sake of her political career, Thompson may want to rethink this strategy, and quickly.