[UPDATE] Senate Admonishes Senate President Haridopolos

By: David Royse, The News Service of Florida
By: David Royse, The News Service of Florida

[UPDATE] 3-10 9:52am --

The Florida Senate formally admonished Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, for failing to fully disclose his financial holdings over a five-year span. The decision was made by the Senate Rules Committee to admonish Haridopolos earlier this year after an investigation by the state ethics commission confirmed he had failed to accurately report his financial status. Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, read a letter of admonition before the full chamber on Wednesday and also a written statement by Haridopolos admitting the error. Haridopolos said it was an inadvertent mistake. Several senators asked whether this was the appropriate punishment, suggesting it was too severe. Thrasher, the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, backed up the committee’s decision saying it was appropriate given that Haridopolos violated the Florida Constitution, and noted that there was precedence in earlier cases.



Senate President Mike Haridopolos should be admonished by the Senate, but pay no fine or face any other punishment for what he said was an inadvertent failure to file complete financial disclosures, a panel of senators decided Thursday.

The Senate Rules Committee unanimously agreed to recommend to the full Senate that Haridopolos be read a letter of admonition before the chamber he leads for the violation, which he has admitted, and says he has corrected.

Haridopolos was found by the state ethics commission to have failed to fully disclose his financial holdings over a five-year span, including a $325,000 Lake County home that he failed to list on his financial disclosure forms. Haridopolos, who said he mistakenly failed to update old forms, has since updated forms now on file with the commission. In addition to the house, he failed to disclose details about consulting clients.

The commission, however, has no power to punish legislators, leaving that up to the Senate that Haridopolos leads.

Rules Committee Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said Thursday that he relied on the precedent of two similar cases in the House from 2000 – coincidentally at the time that Thrasher was speaker of the House – to recommend an admonition. There hasn’t been a similar precedent setting case in the Senate in recent years, he said.

In 2000, Reps. Gus Barreiro of Miami Beach, a Republican, and Alzo Reddick of Orlando, a Democrat, faced admonishments after similar violations.

Democrats this week have blasted the Rules Committee, urging Thrasher and Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, who both have endorsed Haridopolos in his 2012 U.S. Senate bid, to recuse themselves from the Rules Committee vote. Democratic Party Spokesman Eric Jotkoff said in a Twitter post after the vote that a “culture of corruption rages” and said Thrasher was helping “cover up” Haridopolos’ wrongdoing.

Both Thrasher and Flores voted, joining six other Republicans in voting for the punishment, along with three Democrats.

Asked whether he should have recused himself from passing judgment on the Senate candidate he’s supporting, Thrasher responded angrily: “Hell, no,” and called Jotkoff’s charges “political crap.

“They’re used to losing, obviously,” Thrasher said of Democrats, as he left the committee.

Thrasher read into the Rules Committee record on Thursday a letter by Haridopolos acknowledging what he said were the mistakes on his forms.
“None of these mistakes were intentional or meant to hide any personal information,” Haridopolos said in the letter. “I did not adequately follow the instructions on the forms that were filed and relied on forms from previous years for consistency. All documents now on file with the ethics commission are accurate and complete….While these errors on my forms have been easily corrected, I take this situation very seriously and will embrace whatever is deemed to be the appropriate penalty.”

The actual letter of admonition isn’t written yet, and the committee made no recommendation for when it might be read to Haridopolos on the floor if the full Senate agrees with the committee’s recommendation.

A spokesman for Haridopolos said he had no comment beyond what was in the letter read to the committee. He didn’t appear before the panel on Thursday.
In addition to failing to report the House on the filings, Haridopolos also failed to report details about the clients of his MJH Consulting firm, and the clients he represented for Syntax Communications of Long Island, N.Y., which paid him $25,000 from 2004 through 2006.

The ethics complaint was filed by a voter in Haridopolos' Senate district, Eugene "Bucky" Benson, of Vero Beach. The retired engineer told the News Service of Florida earlier that he felt a fine was needed to encourage lawmakers to take financial disclosure laws seriously.

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  • by robert stroud on Mar 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM
    They are all crooks and we the people of florida keep voting them in. Harri is going to run for senate in 2012 and we the lemings of florida will vote him in because he has good hair and a nice smile. reminds me of John Edwards. tea baggers and liberals are all alike in that we tend to vote for the corrupt. Is there not an honest man in the bunch?
  • by Abnormal Location: Tallahassee on Mar 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM
    Bucky - You are incorrect. Your Legislature has written its laws in such a way that the authority to punish legislators for violations of the Code of Ethics lies only with the Legislature. The Ethics Commission found him in violation but his cronies, as always, let him off the hook. The Ethics Commission routinely fines public employees for the very same thing Hairy did, but his being in the Legislature keeps the Ethics Commission from being able to punish him. And folks wonder why Ethics reform will never be passed in Florida. The Legislature doesn't want it because they know how many of them would get caught doing something wrong.
  • by Professional Conservative on Mar 10, 2011 at 10:09 AM
    What he did is not a big deal. Conservatives are allowed to break rules and laws by devine right. They will always be forgiven unlike liberals who abide by an immoral, satanic ideology. The right to bear arms was originally in the Bible then taken out by Democrats.
  • by disgusted on Mar 10, 2011 at 09:17 AM
    Hells Bells, what is wrong with these people? ANY elected member of the Legislature that violates the Constitution of the state of Florida does NOT deserve admonition but does deserve immediate removal from office and possiblly serve some JAIL time. The Senate president did not take the fifth (like Scott) and did admit to the wrongdoing - so there must be more that just a slap on the hand to those who commit civil and criminal actions including those who help conceal and coverup. How fast can the electorate see and say "honor among thieves"?
  • by Anonymous on Mar 10, 2011 at 09:03 AM
    Yes they are above the law - folks would be surprised what laws they do not have to adhere to. Remember they write the laws so they can make the exceptions too.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 10, 2011 at 08:54 AM
    I think part of his punishment should be to take away his hairspray and mess his hair up or just flat out shave his head. I think that would really teach the guy a lesson.
  • by randy Location: tallahassee on Mar 10, 2011 at 08:41 AM
    the entire legislature are a bunch of clowns with no ethics: Harry should be stripped of being senate president and lose all seniority. Why do they think that they are above the law:
  • by Lip Cheese on Mar 10, 2011 at 07:02 AM
    When your life is built on lies and deception, it gets hard to remember them all. That is what American politics has been for years, just another dog and pony show.
  • by JayR250 Location: St. Pete on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:41 AM
    Yes, Haridopolos violated an ethics law. But he made the corrections to the paperwork and fixed the errors. I'm tired of liberals whining about him jus getting a "slap on the wrist". If it were a democrat, you'd be trying to bury the case or deny it. Not too mention - in the end, the penalty was determined by John Phelps - a democrat.
  • by ImpeachCrooks on Feb 28, 2011 at 07:40 AM
    This guy is as crooked as they come. No wonder he is Gov Rick Scott's lapdog. He apparently studied under the Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's School of Hair and Ethics!
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