Ethics Commission wants loopholes closed, disclosures increased

Florida Politics by Jacob Ogles

January 9, 2019

Closing loopholes in Florida’s conflict of interest rules and leveling the playing field on legal costs in ethics cases rose up as top priorities for the Florida Commission on Ethics this year.

Kerrie Stillman presented the Ethics Commission’s legislation priorities to the Florida Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, where she outlined concerns about how local officials throughout the state get around disclosure rules.

“We believe anyone asking the citizens for their votes should be willing to make a full disclosure,” Stillman said.

She laid out four changes to current statute that commission members desire.

Among those, ethics enforcers want to stop a work-around on rules that allows companies owned by elected officials to work with their agencies by working through a third party.

While Florida statute prohibits, for example, a company owned by a mayor from doing business with his or her city, there’s nothing stopping the city from hiring another company, and then that company contracting with the mayor’s company.

Another inconsistency in rules, Stillman noted, involved financial disclosures required for political candidates running in large and small jurisdictions.

Right now, officials seeking office in smaller agencies with low revenue must only file a Form 1statement of financial interests. But those running in larger jurisdictions must also file a more extensive Form 6the same as all state senators.

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