Senate committee postpones anti-corruption bill

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A Florida Senate committee Tuesday postponed a bill that seeks to lower the burden of proof in public corruption cases and expand the law’s reach to more state-related groups such as contractors.

As reported by Lobby Tools, bill SB 582 came under harsh criticism from lawmakers on the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, who felt the measure was too broad

The foundation of proposed legislation came from several recommendations of a 2010 grand jury report requested by former Gov. Charlie Crist, which looked at possible ways to crack down on ethical abuses by public officials.

Also supporting the anti-corruption bill was Gannett Co., publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat.

If passed, prosecutors would have to prove that broadly defined “public servants” acted “knowingly and intentionally” in accepting bribes. Public servants include politicians as well as private and semi-public entities working governmental bodies.

As it stands now, prosecutors are subject to a higher standard of proof to convict; they must demonstrate that public servants acted “corruptly.”

Among the critics of the bill were Clearwater Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala, who argued that the legislation was excessively broad. Latvala asked the committee whether it was possible to “tighten this down” so to prevent innocent small businesses from being forced into expensive legal battles.

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a Tampa Bay-area journalist, editor and writer. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including His broad range includes covering news, local government, entertainment reviews, marketing and an advice column. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in Tampa with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached on Twitter @PhilAmmann or at [email protected].


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