Ethics Reform to Signal Beginning of Session

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

After the prayer, the pledge and the gavel the first order of business for the Florida Senate on the opening day of the 2013 legislative session will be an ethics reform bill.

“Raising ethical standards, that’s job one,” said Gaetz.

In a one-on-one pre-session interview with Senate President Don Gaetz I asked what needs to change to curb corruption in Florida politics.

“We want to close the revolving door that exists between the legislature and lobbying,” said Gaetz. “The ethics commission now doesn’t have any teeth. We want to make sure financial disclosures are available online.”

All good things says Dan Krassner the President of Integrity Florida. Krassner has been pushing for ethics reform since he founded the watchdog group last year.

“Florida is on the cusp of history for ethics reform. It’s been more than 36 years since our state has had comprehensive ethics reform,” said Krassner.

Integrity Florida influenced the bill set for passage.

Reporter: Mission accomplished?
Krassner: The bill’s a little bit of a mixed bag.

The measure gives the state ethics commission the authority to garnish wages from people who don’t pay their fines, but it also lets politicians off the hook if they claim ignorance after being caught in the act.

“We want this ethics law to be stronger. We need it to have more teeth. We need to put ethics reform officers on the beat,”

Krassner is hoping the bill is strengthened before it’s voted on in the Florida House. The House bill aims to outlaw Committees of Continual Existence which raise funds for politicians and sling mud at their opponents.

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