Hundreds of public officials in Florida have racked up fines from Florida’s Commission on Ethics for not following the state’s financial disclosure law.
State law requires public officials to report their personal finances in the interest of transparency. But we found many still keep us in the dark — by reporting late or even not filing at all.
“Voters should not take this lying down,” said Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo. “Our ethics committee doesn’t have teeth it needs to enforce the law.”
The Florida Commission on Ethics does fine those who don’t comply, but more than 370 have failed to pay even after the commission sent them to debt collectors. According the commission’s list (last updated January 31), those officials with unpaid fines collectively owe more than $485,000.
In recent years, the Legislature expanded the statute of limitations for collecting fines and gave the Florida Commission on Ethics some more authority to investigate. But government watchdog groups like Progress Florida and Integrity Florida say the commission still needs more power to collect.
“The Legislature should go a step further and give the authority to the Florida Commission on Ethics to actually put liens on real and personal property of officials who owe ethics fines,” said Integrity Florida Executive Director Dan Krassner.
Original article and video here.