A race-baiting flier. Shadowy attack groups. Hidden campaign money.
The tactics in a bare-knuckle special election to succeed Republican Sen. Jim King of Jacksonville have prompted legislators on both sides of the aisle to call for a quick fix to a Florida campaign-finance loophole before it wreaks havoc in state elections.
The loophole was opened this summer when U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle struck down a Florida campaign law. It violated the free-speech rights of citizens by imposing too many requirements on people engaging in political activity, Mickle ruled.
The result: Such "electioneering communications organizations" — which can raise and spend unlimited money to influence elections — no longer have to disclose basic information such as the names of members, their contributions or their affiliations.
With the 2010 election season heating up, legislators say they want to reinstate some disclosure rules for the groups who could take aim at candidates in races for state house and senate, governor, attorney general, chief financial officer, and agriculture commissioner.
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