This week, the Florida Legislature reconvenes to complete its only constitutionally mandated job: close a multibillion-dollar budget gap. But that is not the only business politicians have on their agenda.
Under Florida law, legislators can schedule and hold political fundraisers up to the June 1 Special Session, when they (hopefully) approve a nearly $80 billion budget – and fend off a possible government shutdown.
As the state faces dire fiscal woes, it raises the question — should state lawmakers be fundraising just before setting a budget?
According to Senate Appropriations Chair Tom Lee, the answer is clear. “No.”
“My suggestion would be that fundraising be suspended until which time we get a budget,” Lee told the Tampa Tribune.
Lee, like many, has wondered about the optics of fundraising in the lead-up to a budget vote.
In a nutshell, fundraising during that period looks bad to voters, collecting money from “special interests” immediately before returning to a Special Session, where they will be asked to support certain legislation.
Lee’s suggestion may be a good one – if he could only follow his own advice.
Before the gavel fell to open the Special Session, the Brandon Republican invited supporters to a golf-themed fundraiser at TopGolf, an interactive East Tampa sports and entertainment venue.
Scheduled for Wednesday, July 8, at 5:30 p.m., the event is sponsored by Lee’s political committee, The Conservative.
One lobbyist told FloridaPolitics.com the cost to attend the event is $10,000.
At least the event does sound like fun.
TopGolf, based in Dallas, is a chain of high-tech driving ranges where players hit microchipped golf balls at targets on an outfield, which instantly scores accuracy and distance. The company now serves more than 4 million annual visitors worldwide. If you are interested, the Tampa location is on Palm River Rd.