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Senate candidate lampoons, shuns soft money donations

Willie Logan uses his ads to urge his opponents for a U.S. Senate seat to reject soft money.

By LUCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 18, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- State Rep. Willie Logan on Friday challenged his opponents in the U.S. Senate race to join him in a campaign against soft money.

Logan also is urging fellow legislators to pass bills that would end the collection of soft money: the unlimited amounts of money collected for campaign coffers.

Logan issued the challenge as he unveiled his first television ad, a somewhat humorous attack on the millions of dollars being poured into political parties and independent organizations nationwide.

Logan, a Democrat from Opa-locka who is running without any party affiliation, is in a unique position to trash soft money, because he isn't likely to be getting any from the Republican and Democratic parties.

His ad, to be shown primarily in North Florida over the next two weeks, appears to be directed more at legislators than voters.

Taped in Minneapolis by Bill Hillsman, the media consultant who helped Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura win election in 1998, the ad opens with Logan standing in front of a giant $1-million bill.

"Big money makes it impossible for regular citizens to run for office," Logan says. "And big money blinds politicians to the will of the people."

Logan identifies himself and says he is running for the U.S. Senate.

"Not to represent Republicans and Democrats or big money. But to represent you," Logan says. "As for big money blinding me -- I'm from South Florida. Here's how we handle that."

Then the casually dressed Logan puts on sunglasses as the ad ends with a voice urging voters to "think independent. Vote Willie Logan for U.S. Senate."

Logan named the commercial "Shades," and is passing out sunglasses with "Think Independent" and his Web site, http://www.logan2000.org written on them. His Web site offers "Willie Live!" chats and "LOGANgear." "The biggest problem our nation faces today is the influence of big money and special interests on our federal government," Logan said. "It's a national epidemic. John McCain said it best when he said, "As long as special interests dominate campaigns, they will dominate legislation as well.' "

Logan said he has joined Rep. Marjorie Turnbull, D-Tallahassee, and others to sponsor a soft money bill that would put $5,000 limits on donations to political parties. The bill would eliminate unrestricted expenditures and multicandidate endorsements used by parties in recent years to get extra money into individual campaigns.

The Senate has passed a soft money bill dubbed "campaign finance reform lite," which restricts soft money donations in the closing two months of campaigns, but there appears to be little support for a more stringent measure.

Logan said he won't take soft money, even if it is offered and called on his opponents to renounce it. Logan said he has collected just under $350,000 from mostly individual donors.

Logan's opponents include Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson, Education Commissioner Tom Gallagher and U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum.

A spokesman for Nelson said he strongly favors banning soft money but won't make a unilateral decision to forgo it as long as his Republican opponents are taking it. So far, Nelson has raised $2.1-million in traditional contributions, say federal campaign records.

A spokesman for Gallagher said he wouldn't have a problem with banning soft money if restrictions also were put on the collection of union dues for political campaigns. Federal records indicate Gallagher has raised $672,168.

McCollum's campaign spokeswoman said he favors a complete ban on soft money. According to federal reports, McCollum has raised $2.3-million.

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