Cities and counties in Florida have long been empowered through principles of home rule to enact their own local campaign finance laws. But the Florida governor recently signed a law, aimed directly at our success in St. Petersburg–where we helped develop and pass a groundbreaking ordinance that bans political spending by foreign-influenced corporations, and limits contributions to super PACs. This new state law preempts and nullifies all local campaign finance limits. While this action is within the Florida state government’s powers, Free Speech For People denounces the naked attempt by corporate and wealthy interests to defeat in Tallahassee what they could not in St. Petersburg. 

The St. Petersburg ordinance, enacted in November 2017, was the first law in the country to ban political spending by foreign-influenced corporations. Its passage made waves around the country, and helped spark a national movement. In January 2020, we helped Seattle pass a similar law. Today, bills are pending in states and cities around the country, and in Congress

Of course, the Florida legislature’s power grab does not only affect St. Petersburg. As the Florida legislature has repeatedly weakened campaign finance protections over the years, cities and counties have increasingly sought to protect their own democracy by enacting lower contribution limits than the state default. By 2015, eight cities and counties had enacted their own campaign finance limits at levels, far lower than the state’s limits.  The legislature has also wiped those away.  

The Florida state legislature may have stopped St. Petersburg, but it can’t stop a national movement. 

Watch a video on the growing national movement led by Free Speech For People and our partner the Center for American Progress to pass laws banning corporate political spending by foreign-influenced corporations.

Watch a video on how St. Petersburg came together to pass its pathbreaking law with help from Free Speech For People and our local partners American Promise-Tampa Bay, the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area, and the Leif Nissen Foundation. 

Learn more about our work to challenge foreign influence in elections.