Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28: The Florida Legislature's Ethics Vacuum

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Ethics issues apparently mean little to the Florida Legislature.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who has had a few ethical hiccups regarding his finances recently, briefly yanked Senate Bill 86, which involves conflict-of-interest rules, from a hearing by the Senate Government Oversight and Accountability Committee last week. After lots of criticism, the bill will be heard Wednesday.

That criticism followed more criticism during the last couple of years about ethical lapses among former legislative leaders. But, as usual, many current lawmakers have apparently decided not to notice.

That's because they've brought back a blast from the past: The slush funds, officially known as "Leadership Funds," that their more ethically minded predecessors eliminated in 1989.

Here's a link to what I wrote about that last year:

Last year, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed it. Last week, lawmakers voted to override that veto.

Voters have been restless in changing elected officials with regard to their pocketbooks. But with the exception of a few communities across the state - Broward County, with its recent history of criminal indictments, being one - they have yet to get really angry about elected officials who think they can bend the rules to their own wills.

Well, Florida, that rule-bending by your state senators and representatives is costing you money.

Ethics mean little to them. How about you?

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