State Senate President Toni Jennings this week called for campaign spending limits on contributions to political parties, drawing praise from good-government groups but putting her at odds with the Republican leadership. "We would be delighted to work with her," said Sally Spencer of Common Cause. GOP chair Tom Slade, however, harrumphed, "I don't think such limits are constitutional."
The U.S. Supreme Court famously equated money with speech in 1975, but there is evidence that the current system -- in which millions are funneled through the parties to evade limits on contributions to individual candidates -- is not what they had in mind. Outback Steakhouse, for example, leans on its low-paid kitchen managers to allow deductions from their paychecks to fund the restaurant's PAC -- which spends money fighting increased minimum-wage proposals. Outback's PAC spent $135,375 supporting Florida candidates in 1998; $112,500 of that was paid to the Republican Party.
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