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Florida > The Florida Election Code > Campaign Financing

§ 106.23 Powers of the Division of Elections.

Overview of Statute

This statute outlines the powers of the Division of Elections with regard to campaign finance matters.

Statute

(1) In order to carry out the responsibilities prescribed by s. 106.22, the Division of Elections is empowered to subpoena and bring before its duly authorized representatives any person in the state, or any person doing business in the state, or any person who has filed or is required to have filed any application, document, papers, or other information with an office or agency of this state or a political subdivision thereof and to require the production of any papers, books, or other records relevant to any investigation, including the records and accounts of any bank or trust company doing business in this state. Duly authorized representatives of the division are empowered to administer all oaths and affirmations in the manner prescribed by law to witnesses who shall appear before them concerning any relevant matter. Should any witness fail to respond to the lawful subpoena of the division or, having responded, fail to answer all lawful inquiries or to turn over evidence that has been subpoenaed, the division may file a complaint before any circuit court of the state setting up such failure on the part of the witness. On the filing of such complaint, the court shall take jurisdiction of the witness and the subject matter of said complaint and shall direct the witness to respond to all lawful questions and to produce all documentary evidence in the witness’s possession which is lawfully demanded. The failure of any witness to comply with such order of the court shall constitute a direct and criminal contempt of court, and the court shall punish said witness accordingly. However, the refusal by a witness to answer inquiries or turn over evidence on the basis that such testimony or material will tend to incriminate such witness shall not be deemed refusal to comply with the provisions of this chapter.

(2) The Division of Elections shall provide advisory opinions when requested by any supervisor of elections, candidate, local officer having election-related duties, political party, affiliated party committee, political committee, or other person or organization engaged in political activity, relating to any provisions or possible violations of Florida election laws with respect to actions such supervisor, candidate, local officer having election-related duties, political party, affiliated party committee, committee, person, or organization has taken or proposes to take. Requests for advisory opinions must be submitted in accordance with rules adopted by the Department of State. A written record of all such opinions issued by the division, sequentially numbered, dated, and indexed by subject matter, shall be retained. A copy shall be sent to said person or organization upon request. Any such person or organization, acting in good faith upon such an advisory opinion, shall not be subject to any criminal penalty provided for in this chapter. The opinion, until amended or revoked, shall be binding on any person or organization who sought the opinion or with reference to whom the opinion was sought, unless material facts were omitted or misstated in the request for the advisory opinion.

History:

s. 23, ch. 73-128; s. 3, ch. 76-233; s. 58, ch. 77-175; s. 651, ch. 95-147; s. 47, ch. 97-13; s. 8, ch. 2001-75; ss. 23, 30, ch. 2011-6; HJR 7105, 2011 Regular Session; s. 23, ch. 2013-37.

Definition [Political Committee]

1. A combination of two or more individuals, or a person other than an individual, that, in an aggregate amount in excess of $500 during a single calendar year:

a. Accepts contributions for the purpose of making contributions to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;

b. Accepts contributions for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue;

c. Makes expenditures that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue; or

d. Makes contributions to a common fund, other than a joint checking account between spouses, from which contributions are made to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;

2. The sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment by initiative who intends to seek the signatures of registered electors.

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), the following entities are not considered political committees for purposes of this chapter:

1. National political parties, the state and county executive committees of political parties, and affiliated party committees regulated by chapter 103.

2. Corporations regulated by chapter 607 or chapter 617 or other business entities formed for purposes other than to support or oppose issues or candidates, if their political activities are limited to contributions to candidates, political parties, affiliated party committees, or political committees or expenditures in support of or opposition to an issue from corporate or business funds and if no contributions are received by such corporations or business entities.

3. Electioneering communications organizations as defined in subsection (9). Fla. Stat. § 106.11(16).

 

Definition [Issue]

A proposition that is required by the State Constitution, by law or resolution of the Legislature, or by the charter, ordinance, or resolution of a political subdivision of this state to be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection at an election, or a proposition for which a petition is circulated in order to have such proposition placed on the ballot at an election. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(13).

Definition [Person]

An individual or a corporation, association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock company, club, organization, estate, trust, business trust, syndicate, or other combination of individuals having collective capacity. The term includes a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(14).

Definition [Election]

Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).

Definition [Candidate]

Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:

(a) Any person who seeks to qualify for nomination or election by means of the petitioning process.
(b) Any person who seeks to qualify for election as a write-in candidate.
(c) Any person who receives contributions or makes expenditures, or gives his or her consent for any other person to receive contributions or make expenditures, with a view to bringing about his or her nomination or election to, or retention in, public office.
(d) Any person who appoints a treasurer and designates a primary depository.
(e) Any person who files qualification papers and subscribes to a candidate’s oath as required by law.
This definition does not include any candidate for a political party executive committee. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(6).

Cases

Florida Cases

Out-of-State Cases

Case State: florida

Case Name: Miller v. Mendez

Citation: 804 So.2d 1243

Year: 2001

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/882ee1064d017bc2d575b2ca549d580e

Case Summary: Miller v. Mendez held that candidates for judicial office were required to meet the eligibility requirements by the beginning date of the term of office, and not at the time of filing the oath.

Case State: florida

Case Name: Smith v. Crawford (campaign finance)

Citation: 645 So.2d 513

Year: 1994

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/2648dd00396b3b7d0dde069c6a0bfbd7

Case Summary: Smith v. Crawford held that defendant was still qualified to receive public financing in his campaign for commissioner of agriculture, even though he had received public financing in his race for governor and had spent more than $2,000,000 in that race, because the contributions received and expenditures made in the gubernatorial race should not be treated as though they had been made in the race for commissioner of agriculture.

Case State: florida

Case Name: Krivanek v. Take Back Tampa Political Committee

Citation: 625 So.2d 840

Year: 1993

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/8f1b4da4f94b626e5e35c6b826a44b14?query=Krivane[...]

Case Summary: Krivanek v. Take Back Tampa Political Committee held that "electors whose names have been temporarily removed from the voter registration books are not qualified to sign initiative petitions under the statutory legislative scheme that establishes voter qualifications."

Federal Cases

Case Name: Wexler v. Lepore (federal)

Citation: 342 F. Supp. 2d 1097

Federal District Court: Southern District of Florida

Year: 2004

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/d62da39f2d02d9313ee18e623a681e91

Case Summary: Wexler v. Lepore held that Florida's updated standards for manual recounts in counties that used touchscreen or optical scan systems complied with the 5th and 14th Amendments' equal protection requirements because the standards were uniform and non-differential.

Case Name: Bush v. Gore

Citation: 531 U.S. 98

Federal District Court: Eastern District of Virginia

Year: 2000

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/ffe23a532d148e534fb47425579e2894?query=531%20U[...]

Case Summary: Bush v. Gore held that Florida's recount procedures were inconsistent with the minimum procedures necessary to protect the fundamental right of each voter in the instance of a statewide recount under the authority of a single state judicial officer.

Case Name: Touchston v. McDermott

Citation: 234 F.3d 1133

Federal Circuit Court: 11th Circuit Court

Year: 2000

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/654c00b1d86cca2eef51b106a34708ff

Case Summary: Touchston v. McDermott held that, for the same reasons elaborated on in Siegel v. Lepore, the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction was affirmed.

Regulations & Guidance

Additional Resources

Further Reading

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 23, Division of Elections

  • Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:106, Special state issues