Florida Senate - 2013                                     SB 114
       By Senator Sachs
       34-00110A-13                                           2013114__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to elections; amending s. 104.271,
    3         F.S.; revising the provision concerning false or
    4         malicious statements about a candidate; prohibiting
    5         certain parties from making any statement or
    6         sponsoring political advertising or electioneering
    7         communications with actual malice; providing a
    8         penalty; defining the term “libel or defamation per
    9         se”; amending s. 106.143, F.S.; requiring a candidate
   10         to file an oath with his or her filing officer within
   11         a specified time after the original publication of a
   12         political advertisement; reenacting s. 106.265(1),
   13         F.S., relating to civil penalties, to incorporate the
   14         amendments made to s. 104.271, F.S., in a reference
   15         thereto; providing an effective date.
   17  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   19         Section 1. Section 104.271, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   20  read:
   21         104.271 False or malicious charges against, or false
   22  statements about, opposing candidates; penalty.—
   23         (1) A Any candidate who, in a primary election or other
   24  election, willfully accuses charges an opposing candidate
   25  participating in such election of with a violation of any
   26  provision of this code, which accusation charge is known by the
   27  candidate making such accusation charge to be false or
   28  malicious, commits is guilty of a felony of the third degree,
   29  punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083 and, if
   30  convicted, is in addition, after conviction shall be
   31  disqualified to hold office.
   32         (2) A person, candidate, political committee,
   33  electioneering communications organization, political party, or
   34  other organization or group of persons, including a group
   35  organized under s. 527 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986,
   36  which Any candidate who, in a primary election or other
   37  election, with actual malice makes or causes to be made a any
   38  statement, or sponsors a political advertisement or
   39  electioneering communication, about a an opposing candidate with
   40  actual malice which constitutes libel or defamation per se,
   41  violates which is false is guilty of a violation of this code.
   42  An aggrieved candidate may file a complaint with the Florida
   43  Elections Commission pursuant to s. 106.25. The commission shall
   44  adopt rules to provide an expedited hearing of complaints filed
   45  under this subsection. Notwithstanding any other provision of
   46  law, the commission shall assess a civil penalty of up to $5,000
   47  against the person, candidate, political committee,
   48  electioneering communications organization, political party, or
   49  other organization or group of persons, including a group
   50  organized under s. 527 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, any
   51  candidate found in violation of this subsection, which sum shall
   52  be deposited into to the account of the General Revenue Fund of
   53  the state. The penalty shall be commensurate with the
   54  commission’s determination of the extent of the damages suffered
   55  by the candidate and the scope, substance, or intent of the
   56  violation.
   57         (3) As used in this section, the term “libel or defamation
   58  per se” means a false or malicious statement that injures the
   59  reputation of a candidate and exposes the candidate to public
   60  hatred, contempt, or ridicule.
   61         Section 2. Subsection (12) is added to section 106.143,
   62  Florida Statutes, to read:
   63         106.143 Political advertisements circulated prior to
   64  election; requirements.—
   65         (12) A candidate, in a primary election or other election,
   66  shall file an oath with his or her filing officer within 72
   67  hours after the original publication of the political
   68  advertisement attesting that the content of the political
   69  advertisement is truthful and has been verified and approved by
   70  the candidate. A candidate who files with the division must file
   71  such oath by means of the division’s electronic filing system
   72  pursuant to s. 106.0705.
   73         Section 3. For the purpose of incorporating the amendment
   74  made by this act to section 104.271, Florida Statutes, in a
   75  reference thereto, subsection (1) of section 106.265, Florida
   76  Statutes, is reenacted to read:
   77         106.265 Civil penalties.—
   78         (1) The commission or, in cases referred to the Division of
   79  Administrative Hearings pursuant to s. 106.25(5), the
   80  administrative law judge is authorized upon the finding of a
   81  violation of this chapter or chapter 104 to impose civil
   82  penalties in the form of fines not to exceed $1,000 per count,
   83  or, if applicable, to impose a civil penalty as provided in s.
   84  104.271 or s. 106.19.
   85         Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013.