A Warning to Candidates of the New Primary Law
Articles: Sarasota History
Governor Trammell has addressed the following letter to the sheriffs of each county in regard to the new law governing primaries:
“To the Sheriffs of Florida: As you know, the Legislature of 1913 enacted Chapter 6470, being an act limiting campaign expenditures. This law, in my opinion, if strictly enforced will be of great good to our state in that it will accomplish much towards securing the purity of the ballot and in giving every voter a free and equal right in the selecting of the public officials.
“This new law will be for the first time put into practical operation in connection with the primary elections to be held a few months hence, and while I am satisfied that the sheriffs of the state will use their best efforts to enforce its wholesome provisions, and that in so doing they will find strong support in a sympathetic public sentiment fully endorsing the spirit and terms of the new law I deem it well to invite your attention to section 16 of the law which reads as follows:
“That it shall all be the duty of the sheriffs of this state to exercise strict vigilance in the detection of any violations of this act and the apprehending of any violators thereof.”
“The law thus having placed a specific duty upon the sheriffs it is desired that you do all possible to enforce a strict compliance with its provisions. You will upon reading this law find important provisions thereof as follows, to wit:
“1st. The amount which a candidate for a state or county office can expend of his own funds or funds contributed is limited to the sum fixed by the law.
“2nd. A candidate cannot make expenditure except for the following purposes:
“For his traveling expenses while campaigning, fee for qualifying, stenographic work, clerks at his campaign headquarters to address, prepare and mail campaign literature, telegrams, telephones, postage, freight, express, stationary, list of voters, office rent, newspaper advertising, advertising in campaign book, printing, and renting of halls in which to address the voters. Expenditures for any other purposes are prohibited.
“3rd. No candidate or private citizen shall employ or offer to employ campaign workers, or campaign speakers, nor shall any loans, gifts or rewards be made by either to influence a voter.
“4th. No person shall solicit, receive or accept any pay, gift, reward, loan, or value, for services, loss of time, or money, salary, contribution or thing for expenses, in consideration or thing for expenses, in consideration of his vote or any service he may render for or against a candidate.
“5th. No person, not a candidate himself, in furtherance of or in opposition to the candidacy of any person shall give, loan, expend, contribute or promise to give, pay loan, expend or contribute any money or other thing of value for any purpose whatever; provided, person services and personal traveling expenses may be contributed; and provided that campaign contributions made direct to the candidate or his campaign headquarters may be made and accounted for in the sworn statements required of candidates.
“6th. All campaign literature shall have the name of the author thereon.
“7th. All political advertisements appearing in newspapers shall be marked ‘Paid Advertisement.’
“8th. It is unlawful for any candidate or other person to publish an attack against a candidate within eighteen (18) days of the primary, unless a copy thereof against whom the attack is made at least eighteen (18) days before the primary.
“9th. It is unlawful for any candidate or other person to give or promise to give a newspaper publisher anything of value, as an inducement for the support of his paper. It is unlawful for the publisher to solicit or accept the same.
“10th. Candidates and other persons are prohibited from furnishing, giving or delivering to another person any money or other thing of value to be used for any purpose prohibited by the act.
“11th. It is the duty of the grand jury of each county to make diligent inquiry as to whether or not this law has been violated.
“12th. Candidates for county offices are required to file with the Clerk of the Circuit Court detailed itemized statements of campaign expenditures and contributions. One statement to be filed not more than thirty days nor less than twenty-five days prior to the primary, also a statement shall be made within ten days after the primary. The candidates for national and state offices are required to make and file similar reports with the Secretary of State.
“13th. The word, ‘candidate’ in this act is defined as meaning any person who has announced to any person, or to the public that he is a candidate for a certain office. After so announcing each candidate should, under the law, keep an accurate itemized statement of his campaign expenses.
“14th. Persons other than candidates who violate this law shall be punished by a fine of as much as $1,000 or twelve months imprisonment, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
“Candidates who violate the law are subject to the same penalty and in addition their names shall not be printed upon the primary ticket, or the general election ticket, and in the event the crime is not discovered until after the election, no commission shall be issued to the offender if he is elected. If he gets into office before the discovery of the crime, he shall then, upon discovery of the offense, be removed or impeached.
“In the above I have not attempted to set out the law in full, but have merely in a concise way referred to a number of the important features thereof. For your information I am sending you a copy of the law.
“If you at any time find it necessary to have the services of a detective in connection with cases arising under this law, kindly advise me.”
Yours very truly,
Park Trammell, Governor