TALLAHASSEE, Florida (June 20, 2014)
Friday a coalition of Tallahassee community leaders launched a campaign to bring new anti-corruption laws to the city of Tallahassee.
Citizens for Ethics Reform, a local anti-corruption organization, is collecting signatures to place a charter amendment on the November ballot.
The charter amendment includes the establishment of a citywide ethics and anti-corruption policy, an independent ethics officer, and a $250 limit on campaign contributions.
Citizens for Ethics reform will need to gather nearly 10,000 signatures from registered Tallahassee voters by August 1 to place the referendum on the November 2014 ballot.
Citizens for Ethics Reform is a nonpartisan organization chaired by the head of an independent ethics watchdog group, a Tea Party leader, and a former Democratic Leon County Commissioner.
“Ethics is an issue where both liberals and conservatives agree that reform is needed,” said Anita Davis, co-chair of Citizens for Ethics Reform and a former Leon County Commissioner. “This effort is led by both progressives and conservatives, and reflects the broad support for measures like these across the country," she said.
In 2010, Leon County voters overwhelmingly supported a similar charter amendment to limit campaign donations to candidates for county commission and constitutional offices to $250 per contributor.
The proposed charter amendment by Citizens for Ethics Reform would mirror the Leon County limit of $250 and include measures to bring clean money into citywide elections.
“The public deserves an opportunity to have a say in whether the ethics policy for the City of Tallahassee should be stronger,” said Marilynn Wills, a co-chair of Citizens for Ethics Reform and the current chair of Integrity Florida, an independent ethics watchdog group. “The city needs a truly independent ethics watchdog who is accountable to the people,” she said.
A recent study by Indiana University found that corruption costs Floridians an average of $1,308 per year.
“Corruption is expensive to taxpayers,” said Catherine Baer, Co-Chair of Citizens for Ethics Reform and the chair of The Tea Party Network. “The influence of lobbyists and campaign contributions leads to politically connected companies getting sweetheart contracts from the city. We need an independent ethics watchdog at city hall to keep an eye on our money,” she said.