Had an appeals court not issued an injunction, gubernatorial candidate and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum would get a $24.9 million check in the mail within the next seven days receive matching funds over $24.9 million from the State of Florida.
That’s because his rival, former health care executive Rick Scott, has now spent $25.2 million on winning the Republican primary for governor, breaking the $24.9 million state spending cap. However, a federal appeals court in Atlanta issued a preliminary injunction against the cap on July 30. The court ruled that the spending cap violated Scott’s First Amendment rights and would have caused “irreparable harm” to him.
McCollum’s lawyers unsuccessfully argued that an injunction would have harmed him since he was banking on receiving the funds by spending all but $800,000 of his campaign cash. The court, however, rejected that argument and said that the campaign should have known that the law was vulnerable to a court challenge. The McCollum campaign and affiliated 527 groups have spent around $10 million thus far.
In addition to the $25.2 million Scott has spent, his affiliated 527, Let’s Get to Work, has shelled out more than $30 million in advance of the Aug. 24 primary.
The Florida Secretary of State’s office said today it will not appeal the court ruling, meaning that McCollum definitely won’t be getting matching funds. However, the injunction is only for the primary election, and the Scott campaign would have to file for another for the general election if it chooses to do so.
This story has been amended to reflect that the state spending cap provided a dollar-for-dollar match for expenditures over $24.9 million, not for a flat sum of $24.9 million, as originally reported.