Amendment 12 would prohibit public officials from lobbying for compensation for six years after leaving elected office.
Proponents’ Argument For
Proponents argue that elected officials are meant to serve the constituents who elect them, but by allowing corporations to purchase lobbying by politicians who are recently out of office argue these politicians may serve corporate interests instead of the interests of their constituents. Running for office becomes an opportunity to get wealthy instead of serving the public. Currently, Florida’s two-year ban is not enough time to dissolve the valuable connections that corporations wish to purchase. This measure would extend that ban to six years to further ensure that corporations cannot purchase the lobbying services of politicians.
Opponents’ Argument Against
There is no formal opposition at this time.
Florida has a history with state-level political corruption, and recent movements including the Open Sunshine laws are efforts aimed at curbing the connections, real or perceived, between corporations and Floridian politicians. The two-year lobbying ban was implemented as another tool in the effort to diminish the connections between the two. However, free speech laws and the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision confirmed that private interests can spend their capital resources to express their political views to both policymakers and the general population.
Lobbying is a form of free speech and restricting it is both constitutionally inappropriate and futile. However, if the “contract” that elected officials accept when they run for office is a restriction on their lobbying work afterward, there is nothing wrong with that. But people should not fool themselves into thinking this will make a big difference. There are many ways a public official can stay in the public eye until the time limit passes and still capitalize on their time in office. The best way to limit special interests’ influence on government is to limit the scope of government decisions.
The Voters’ Guide examines the proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution that are on the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot.