Ending corruption in politics: Expanding financial disclosure

The House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee announced to Historic City News that it will consider several ethics measures during the 2017 legislative session, per chairman of the ethics panel, Representative Larry Metz (R) Yalaha.

Even before the session starts on March 7th, legislation is already being discussed that would require elected city officials to file the same types of detailed financial disclosures currently required for county commissioners, state lawmakers and other officials.

“In 1998, before I began editing Historic City News, I became a Florida licensed private investigator,” Michael Gold said. “For four years before that, I was licensed by the Michigan Department of State Police and operated a Detroit area detective agency.”

According to Gold, absent the information available to the public from a detailed financial disclosure, it is nearly impossible to identify financial conflicts of interest and potential financial fraud.

Another proposed bill will require city governments, and other local agencies ranging from hospital districts to port authorities, to develop lobbyist-registration systems.

Not to anyone’s surprise, Kraig Conn, whose clients include the City of St Augustine, and who is a paid lobbyist for the Florida League of Cities, has raised several concerns with the additional disclosures that would be required under such legislation.

More than 2,000 elected city officials would have to file the new disclosure forms, Conn pointed out. He suggested that lawmakers consider a threshold for the higher ethics requirements based on the size of city governments and their budgets.

Another proposal, which has yet to take the form of a bill, would restrict the
types of jobs that state lawmakers could hold while in office and for a certain time after they leave the Legislature, Metz said.

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