It was supposed to show who profited from public money. But the rule wasn’t enforced

Miami Herald by Elizabeth Koh

May 10, 2018

If you want to know how much your local government is spending on private lobbyists to lobby the Legislature, the Florida House has a web page devoted to disclosing it.

But though House Speaker Richard Corcoran promised the web page would provide “transformational” transparency, the House forgot one thing: to post all the data.

Records obtained by the Herald/Times show that despite an ethics rule that requires lobbyists for taxpayer-funded entities to submit lobbying contracts to the Florida House, that rule has not been enforced. The House’s much vaunted web page was not updated for a year and some lobbyists neglected for months to comply with the required disclosures.

Today, the web page still includes outdated data on lobbying expenditures made by local governments and remains incomplete. At one point, the backlog left hundreds of documents off the books in the last two years, despite Corcoran’s claim.

“The ball was dropped somewhere along the line,” said Rep. Larry Metz, the Yahala Republican who chairs the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee that is supposed to maintain the web page and enforce the rule.

Corcoran, a Land O’Lakes Republican, announced Wednesday that he would not be running for governor as he had long planned. He has said the House lobbyist disclosure rules and his other ethics initiatives are among the most important achievements of his eight years in office.

In November 2016, the House passed the rule requiring lobbyists contracting with all local governments and taxpayer-funded entities to disclose those contracts.

“It’s a disgrace that taxpayer dollars are used to hire lobbyists when we elect people to represent them,” Corcoran said at the time. ”The state doesn’t do it, and neither should the locals.”

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