Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida Commission On Ethics Set To Cancel $1,500 Fine For One Of Its Own

Florida Commission on Ethics
Photo: Tumisu via Pixabay | Columbia County Observer graphic

Tallahassee – Florida's ethically challenged Commission on Ethics is poised to waive a $1,500 fine for one of its commissioners.

Lauderhill businessman Freddie Figgers was tagged with a $25-per-day fine for failing to file a required financial disclosure form for 2021 when he was on the board of directors of the state’s economic development organization, Enterprise Florida Inc. (EFI). He served from June 2021 until it was dissolved on May 31, 2023.

Figgers’s disclosure form was due July 1, 2022. He didn’t file it until July 28, 2023 – the day after Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him to a two-year term as an ethics commissioner — the total fine:  $1,500, the maximum penalty – almost.

"Unless the fine is successfully appealed, the Commission is required to investigate public officers and employees who receive the maximum fine to determine whether their failure to file was willful. The penalty for willfully failing to file disclosure is removal from public office…" says the commission's November 2023 notice of assessment to Figgers.

Freddie Figgers
Freddie Figgers via FB

So Figgers faced the boot from what he has termed his “prestigious” seat on the ethics commission.

In December, figgers appealed to his fellow commissioners to avoid that and the fine, citing "unusual circumstances." His letter's salutation is to the "Honorable Members of the Florida Commission on Ethics," which includes himself.

His ethics commission colleagues will consider Figgers’s appeal at their April 19 meeting. And Figgers will likely be there, even though the Florida Senate did not confirm his appointment. He didn’t even get a hearing before the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. There’s been no explanation as to why.

Figgers did not respond to Florida Bulldog’s requests for comment.


Figgers, owner of the wireless telecom company Figgers Communication, wrote that he has “always been guided by a strong ethical compass” and affixed blame for the failure to timely file his 2021 financial disclosure form on others, not himself.

He explained that while he was busy performing “extensive and proactive” work for Enterprise Florida, “contributing to Florida’s economic growth and participating in strategic decision-making,” he relied on EFI staffers to submit his disclosure form for him.

"Historically, the process of completing and submitting these forms has been managed by the administrative staff at EFI, a protocol I trusted and relied upon throughout my term," Figgers wrote. He added that he had an email from an EFI staffer that "implied" that his 2021 disclosure form had been "properly filed." Form 1 Statements of Financial Interests require officials who file them to provide information about their sources of income, real property, stocks and bonds, and liabilities, and to affix their signature.

Figgers also blamed the Legislature’s push to eliminate Enterprise Florida during its 2023 session, which “led to a period of organizational upheaval.”

“It is within this context of change and uncertainty that the oversight regarding my financial disclosure likely occurred,” Figgers wrote. “I respectfully request a thorough review and consideration of this appeal, considering the complex interplay of factors that have contributed to this unfortunate oversight.”

His letter also attempts to explain why he never responded to numerous postcards, letters, and emails sent to remind him of his obligation to file by commission staff.


The commission’s proposed final order that would waive the fine and conclude the case, which is a staff recommendation, details the steps that were taken to get Figgers to fulfill his obligation to file his disclosure form – and the lack of urgency by Figgers to fix it.

The first notice that went out was mailed in mid-May 2022, well before the form was even due, to Figgers’s office address: 3810 Inverrary Boulevard, Suite 401. That’s a four-story office building across from the Inverrary golf course.

On July 29, 2022, a notice of delinquency was sent to the same address by certified mail. Somebody signed for it, but the signature is unreadable.

Figgers told the commission months later that he never received either notice and suggested that was due to “the unique challenges presented by the shared mailroom” at his office building.

“The certified letter, allegedly delivered and signed by an unknown individual, highlights the vulnerabilities in the mail reception process. This incident is not isolated but part of a pattern of mail-related issues at this location, raising legitimate concerns about the security and reliability of receipt of critical communications. I did not receive notifications nor phone calls,” Figgers wrote in December 2023.

On Aug. 9, 2022, after not hearing from Figgers, commission staff emailed him another notice: a copy of his Form 1 filing for the previous year and a blank 2021 form. The email was also sent to an Enterprise Florida employee, Katie Richardson, who Figgers said assisted members in filing their financial disclosure reports with the ethics commission.

On Aug.18, 2022, the commission sent Figgers a postcard reminder of his obligation to file to his Lauderhill address. One month later, the commission sent a "courtesy notice" to the Lauderhill address that fines were beginning to accrue.


A month later, on Sept. 19, 2022, Figgers emailed Richardson. "Hello Katie, I hope all is well. I thought this was taken care of?" Later that day, Richardson emailed commission staff asking, "Will you please let Freddie and I know what we're missing on this. We both thought this was taken care of." On Sept. 21, commission staffer Kimberly Holmes called and left a voicemail for Richardson requesting a callback.

Neither Figgers nor Richardson responded. So on Oct. 3, Holmes emailed Richardson at Enterprise Florida, informing her that Figgers is the only board member who has not filed and telling her that "as of today, the fine is at $800." She also warned that the commission would investigate Figgers and that he could be removed from office.

Still no response.

Emails attached to the proposed final order show that on Dec. 8, 2022, commission staffer Emily Prine emailed both Figgers and Richardson.

"Mr. Figgers, we did not receive the Form 1 2021 filing. A fine of $1500.00 has been imposed for failure to file." She includes a blank form for him to complete and an appeal form.

Figgers emails Commission on Ethics staffer Prine and Richardson four days later. "Hello, I am following up…this was taken care of?" Prine emails back quickly to tell him his 2021 disclosure still has not been received. Figgers then asks Prine to call him.

They speak on the phone, and Prine then sends Figgers another email and another blank copy of the disclosure form for him to complete and file. In her notes, she writes, "Spoke with filer. Some confusion about this year's filing."


Seven months go by without Figgers figuring it out. Then, on July 27, the governor appoints him to the ethics commission, and suddenly, he figures it out. Figgers files the next day, in person, to attend his first meeting as a commissioner.

The Form 1 Figgers filed does not require filers to disclose their net worth. He disclosed that his primary sources of income are his three companies, Figgers Communications, Figgers Health, and Figgers Enterprise. A secondary source of income is MCR Health, a healthcare provider based in Bradenton.

Glenton “Glen” Gilizean (Photo: Disney Fanatic)

Among his new colleagues on his first day as a commissioner was then-commission chairman Glenton “Glen” Gilzean. At the time, Gilzean was also the $400,000-a-year administrator of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), formerly known as The Walt Disney Company’s Reedy Creek Improvement District before its takeover by DeSantis and the state.

Gilzean resigned his ethics post less than a month after Figgers came on board. But in that short time, Gilzean awarded his colleague's company, FIggers Communication, a $1-million no-bid contract for a new 911 network for the district. The contract was soon canceled in the glare of media scrutiny. However, Orlando's WFTV-9 Investigates reported last week that the district paid Figgers almost $100,000.

(Gilzean quit the CFTOD last month after Gov. DeSantis named him Orange County Supervisor of Elections. His replacement at CFTOD is Stephanie Kopelousos, a former DeSantis presidential campaign advisor.)


On Nov. 20, 2023, the commission staff sent Commissioner Figgers another certified letter with a notice of assessment of his $1,500 fine and his right to appeal by Jan. 2. Figgers emailed his appeal on Dec. 29.

As the proposed final order states, “financial disclosure is required of public officials and employees because it enables the public to evaluate potential conflicts of interest, deters corruption and increases public confidence in government.”

That is true, of course, but apparently, it is not really all that important when it comes to an ethics commissioner's failure to file financial disclosure.

Without taking a sworn statement from Figgers or anyone else, the staff handling the matter and the proposed final order swallowed Figgers's story.

"Appellant states he completed a 2021 CE Form 1 timely and gave it to administrative staff at Enterprise Florida for processing, as had been the usual practice there in years past," the proposed order states. "Appellant's assertion that he timely filled out the 2021 CE Form 1 is consistent with the emails he sent September 19, 2022, and December 12, 2022, indicating that he thought the matter had been 'taken care of' and is consistent with Ms. Richardson's assertion in her September 19, 2022 email to the commission that she also thought it had been 'taken care of.'"

If the commission adopts the proposed order, anyone who files their financial disclosure late, even ignoring multiple requests to file, can say they thought it had been filed and might get away with it.

To make matters worse, the commission would give a colleague a free pass. The appearance of a conflict is obvious, and the conflict is real.

So much for public confidence.

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

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