Friday, January 22, 2016

New State Corruption Push is More of the Same

The Florida Legislature is talking tough on public corruption.  This is nothing new.  As recently as 2010 the Florida Department of Statewide Prosecution convened a Statewide Grand Jury to look at public corruption.

Below is a link to their findings:$file/19thSWGJInterimReport.pdf

Some statements in the report are a little to close to home for many of our elected officials.  Some even make the statement in the press.

  • "We heard testimony about a legislator who wanted to secure parking for a football game in a full lot. When the legislator was told he would not be let in, he tried to use his public position of authority to gain access to the parking lot. We find no reason that actions such as this should require a corrupt element to be a civil violation of the Code of Ethics."
  • "Amend F.S. 112.3143 by replacing the language “special private gain or loss” with “any gain or loss.”
  • "In addition, the Florida House and Senate have rules requiring disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and abstention from voting. House and Senate rules can be stricter than the Florida statutes. Both Senate and House rules regarding conflict of interest use the term “special private gain”. Senate Rule 1.20 requires every Senator, unless excused, to be present and vote on each question in Chamber or committee. “However, a Senator may abstain from voting if, in the Senator’s judgment, a vote on a question would constitute a conflict of interest as defined in section 112.312(8), Florida Statutes.”
I don't hold out too much hope for the revisions.  Neither did the 2010 Grand Jury but their report did state this...

This discussion raises the other issue of the effectiveness of corruption prosecutions in the state system versus the federal system. While not the focus of this Report, it does bear comment. There are two distinct advantages to law enforcement in the federal system – superior resources and secrecy. The government’s resources allow them to develop corruption cases over years and particularly in this area, that makes a big difference. While it seems odd to discuss secrecy in a report on transparency, we must acknowledge that without secrecy, witnesses are reluctant to come forward against powerful political figures. 

These citizens recommendations as a Grand Jury were largely ignored by the State.

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