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Politics

Ad deluge on Amendment 3 looms

Neither side is saying when it will start running television ads, but both sides of the debate over Amendment 3 have more than $1-million on hand for the final two weeks before Election Day.

By JONI JAMES
Published October 24, 2006


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TALLAHASSEE - Neither side is saying when it will start running television ads, but both sides of the debate over Amendment 3 have more than $1-million on hand for the final two weeks before Election Day.

The state constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature would require that future proposed amendments be passed by 60 percent of voters.

Trust the Voters, which opposes the amendment, was the clear financial underdog until Friday, when it filed a campaign finance report showing donations totaling more than $1-million from Americans for Limited Government in Chicago and the Humane Society of the United States.

The influx drew a quick attack from Protect Our Constitution, the pro-Amendment 3 group that's raised $2.3-million and has spent at least $1.2-million on still-to-air TV time. The group is led by the Florida Chamber of Commerce's Mark Wilson.

"We've been saying for years that what is wrong with that position is it's being driven by out-of-state interests," Wilson said. "Most of our money comes from inside the state of Florida; 97 percent of theirs does not."

But Amendment 3 opponents had a quick retort: Their analysis showed $1.6-million of the supporters' fundraising came from addresses within a few blocks of the state Capitol in Tallahassee.

"They want to have a debate about whose money is pure?" said Paul Seago of Trust the Voter. "On their side is all the special interests that are continually going to the Legislature for favors."

The bulk of Trust the Voter's new cash, $800,000, came from Americans for Limited Government, a pro-citizen initiative group chaired by Howard Rich. Rich is also on the board of the Republican Club for Growth, whose founders include Charlie Hilton, a prominent Republican and Panama City developer who co-chairs Trust the Voter. Another $250,000 came from the Humane Society, which backed the 2002 amendment that bans caging pregnant pigs.

The $2.3-million flowing to Protect Our Constitution reads like a who's-who of Florida business and their national affiliates. For example: $300,000 from National Association of Homebuilders; $100,000 from Blue Cross and Blue Shield; $100,000 from Alico Inc.; $75,000 from U.S. Sugar.

Another $250,000 came from the little-known Foundation for Preserving Florida's Future, a nonprofit that calls itself moderate on growth management.

[Last modified October 24, 2006, 05:17:31]


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