Public Campaign Action Fund's David Donnelly has an op-ed today in the Miami Herald on the NRA, campaign finance, and money's influence in our political system.
When Gov. Rick Scott’s Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection meets on Tuesday, the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law from State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, will be in the crosshairs of public scrutiny.
And for good reason. Following passage in 2005 in Florida, similar laws were adopted in approximately two dozen states, with the help of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National Rifle Association (NRA). These state laws, according to The Wall Street Journal, have resulted in an average 50 percent increase in “justifiable homicides” in the years after their passage, while other states experience little or no change.
But Baxley, a task force member, is not simply a member of the Florida Legislature with expertise or interest in policies related to “citizen safety and protection.” A closer review of his relationship with the gun lobby underscores that he should be considered a representative of the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the task force, not of the voters that place him into office.
Baxley himself doesn’t make the distinction, recently telling CNN, “I feel like I’m responding to my constituents when the NRA sits at the table with me.”
The NRA is no stranger to Florida politics. Since 1998, the NRA and pro-gun interests have donated almost $400,000 to Florida candidates and parties, largely to Republicans. In addition, the interest group has spent heavily on independent expenditures to elect favored candidates or defeat enemies. Over the 2008 and 2010 election cycles alone, the NRA spent nearly $1 million to influence Florida state races, including $35,000 in campaign spending to support Rep. Baxley in the 2008 election cycle, according to Mother Jones.