Florida Election Commission gears up for looming challenges
Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed three members to the Florida Elections Commission (FEC), including a chair, meaning the election watchdog now has the required quorum and can meet for the first time since May.
These are DeSantis’ first three appointments to the nine-member commission since taking office in January 2019. The panel is now made up of four people whose terms have expired.
Because the FEC did not have a quorum of five, its August 17 hearings were postponed to August 31.
The FEC was established in 1951 to provide transparency in elections throughout the state. It is the agency to which candidates file reports to document all contributions and expenses made by campaigns and committees.
The FEC has statutory responsibility for enforcing state election laws and the power to impose fines for violations of Florida election laws. A commission within the Florida Department of Legal Affairs, its budget and operations are independent from the office of Attorney General Ashley Moody.
The FEC is handling the state’s defense of its election laws, including Florida’s decision not to appeal the July 1 injunction by North Florida District Judge Allen Winsor preventing passage of the bill. Senate Act 1890.
In granting the Florida American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) petition for a temporary injunction against SB 1890, Winsor’s order prohibits the FEC from applying a contribution cap of $ 3,000 on donation measures. vote.
The FEC has requested a 90-day extension to file its appeal because, it argues, it has hired a new outside law firm and needs time to respond to the motion for judgment.
“The FEC still does not have a quorum to conduct its business, as it has done since the end of May,” the ACLU said in its response.
The FEC is also handling the 19th Amendment challenge to the 2019 Florida Criminal Voting Act before the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals, and it will have the residue of the court case left over. Miami-Dade circuit involving a 2020 “shadow candidate” of a grim monetary scheme that may have swayed several senatorial districts in the November 2020 election.
The canceled FEC agenda for August 17 included a review of three alleged campaign violations filed against Rep. Anika Omphroy, D-Lauderdale Lakes, for failing to file campaign finance reports, and violations allegedly committed by the Coral Springs Fraternal Order of Police Lodge.
Under state law, no more than five FEC commissioners may belong to the same political party. Of the nine members of the commission, the governor appoints eight of the six names provided to him by the president of the state Senate, the president of the state chamber and the leaders of the minority chambers.
The eight must be confirmed by the Senate, but the governor has the discretion to appoint the president of the FEC. DeSantis has appointed Nicholas Primrose, chief regulatory compliance officer for the Jacksonville Port Authority, as president of the FEC.
Former general counsel for the DeSantis administrations and former Governor Rick Scott, Primrose will join the four commissioners when the FEC meets on August 31.
The other remaining members of the FEC are lawyers appointed under the Scott administration: vice-president Joni Poitier; Jason Allen; Kymberlee Smith; and J. Martin Hayes.
The other gubernatorial candidates awaiting confirmation are Republicans who served on the FEC under Scott – former State Representative Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who served as Florida’s lieutenant governor from 2014 to 2019, and Detective retired Miami Police Marva Preston.
Preston was among three candidates put forward by Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby. Philip Twogood, a staff member of a state agency, and Allen were the other two.
Recommendations from Senate Democrats include Tampa lawyer Cheryl Forchilli, former prosecutor Devin Collier and Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida.
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Key words: News, Florida, State, Election
Original author: John Haughey, The Center Square contributor
Original location: Florida Election Commission gears up for looming challenges