Jacksonville ethics commission to discuss state bills that could gut it

From watchdogs to lapdogs?

New legislation threatens the functionality of local ethics panels around the state, and at least one sees it as a potential existential threat.

The Jacksonville Ethics Commission plans to discuss bills in the House and the Senate (SB 7014/HB 1597) in a special meeting Monday at 4 p.m., amid concerns from Kirby Oberdorfer, the director of Jacksonville’s Office of Ethics, Compliance and Oversight, that the legislation would  make these panels “lap dogs instead of watchdogs” by gutting their ability to launch independent investigations.

The Senate measure has already passed unanimously and is now in messages in the House, where a similar bill is still in the committee process.

The bill seems to shut the door on certain complaints, including those based on “hearsay,” a condition which has riled editorial pages. It also requires complaints to be signed under oath, meaning that aspirant whistleblowers will have to put their names and their reputations on their gripes.

“The bill leaves both state and local ethics commissions toothless in considering complaints of wrongdoings that aren’t done right out in the open for all the world to see,” charged the Palm Beach Post.

City Council members are expected to be on hand, likely including former Florida Ethics Commission member Matt Carlucci, who condemned the legislation and the process in a recent op-ed.

“The bill in question (SB 7014) introduces prohibitive measures that overburden citizens seeking to lodge legitimate complaints. It mandates that complainants possess personal knowledge of the alleged ethics violation and effectively strips local ethics commissions of their ability to initiate independent investigations.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • MH/Duuuval

    February 10, 2024 at 3:56 pm

    Here’s the deal: The local ethics code has more teeth in it than the pitiful state ethics code. Moreover, the same cast of MAGA nitwits running the state into the ground is pushing this measure.

    I’ve seen the state ethics board in action and they are a joke. Here’s just one example: The official defending their conduct is the only person allowed to speak at a 15-minute final hearing.

    Many cases don’t go that far because the official cops a plea and gets a small monetary penalty w/o having to admit guilt. And next thing you know, this reprobate is back in the game, acting as if nothing happened..

    • MH/Duuuval

      February 10, 2024 at 5:11 pm

      Based on two true stories.

      • Nope

        February 10, 2024 at 5:41 pm

        Only 2? But I thought a substantiated breach of ethics was prerequisite in running for office in the free state of floriduh? Free of accountability, free of logic, free of purpose…

        • MH/Duuuval

          February 10, 2024 at 10:11 pm

          One I know of personally because I originated it.

          The other became public when a pitiful fine was levied and the accused came back and re-engaged in local politics. Most of us would retire after such an episode, but shame carries no weight with MAGA.

  • Jim Sheets

    February 15, 2024 at 4:34 pm

    The last person a Florida legislator wants to hear from is a voter. If ever there was an oxymoron it would be Florida and Tallahassee.

Comments are closed.


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