Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

Florida News

FL Legislature Sends Ethics Reform to Governor: Does this give you more confidence?

TALLAHASSEE, FL – After a 36 year drought, Florida's legislators were all puffed up yesterday, smiling and patting themselves on the back for a job well done. After leading America in federal indictments in what seems like forever; given a C- in a national State Integrity Investigation and with the nudging of public interest groups like Integrity Florida, The First Amendment Foundation, Common Cause Florida and others; and with state and national press coverage of their shenanigans that goes back to the time of the Marx Brothers, the folks in Tallahassee finally heard the music and did something. Yesterday they passed ethics and campaign reform and sent the bills along to the Governor for his signature.

Dan Krassner of Integrity Florida, the watchdog group that has been leaning heavily on the systemic and endemic corruption in Florida was pleased with the results, so far. In a statement released yesterday he said, "While there is still more work to do to make ethics laws stronger and to fix a broken campaign finance system, Florida is finally moving in the right direction on these issues."

If the Senator couldn't understand the legislation, it might be time to write ethics laws that everyone can understand.

In the closing hours of the debate, Senator Charlie Dean called for and received a brief recess so the Senate could confer with its lawyers for clarification of some of the language of a house version of the legislation.

The Legislation

Senate Bills 2 & 4: Ethics Reform

• Create new restrictions to prohibit officials from obtaining crony jobs based on their public office, such as a two year ban on legislators becoming executive branch lobbyists.

• Expands ethics code restrictions on gifts from vendors to state officials.

• Allows elected official to hold their assets in a blind trust. Does not prohibit the trusts from investing in companies the officials regulate.

• Financial disclosure forms will be posted online.

• Ethics complaints will now be able to be filed by U.S. Attorneys, State Attorneys, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Governors Office.

• The Ethics Commission will be able to initiate its own investigations.

• Loosens the limits on dual employment that existed in earlier versions of the bill. The legislator must now be qualified for the job, which must be publically advertised.

House Bill 569: Campaign Finance Reform

• Raises contribution limits to $3,000 for statewide candidates and $1,000 for legislative and local candidates. Makes it easier for candidates to raise more money.

• Requires 24-hour disclosure of contributions and expenditures in the final days of state-level campaigns for statewide candidates, their political committees, and electioneering and communication organizations and a more rapid filing schedule for campaign reports year-round for candidates and committees. Effects only 24 to 28 races.

• Allows a successful state candidate to retain $20,000 for reelection to the same office.

• Requires Legislators to close Committees of Continuing Existence (CCEs). Allows the money to be transferred to other committees, parties and candidates.


If you are confused or would like to learn more, the links to the Florida Legislature's web sites are as follows:

Senate Bill 2, ethics, is here.

Senate Bill 4, ethics,  is here.

House Bill 569, campaign finance reform is here.

Looking for the bills that were sent to the Governor? The Senate bills are a little easier to find. SB 2 is 62 pages. The Governor is supposed to read this thing. Good luck.

Comments (to add a comment go here)

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.