Federal judge blocks Florida law requiring deeper financial disclosure for local officials

ethics book
'(The state has) not demonstrated a relationship between the interest of protecting against the abuse of the public trust and SB 774’s fulsome financial disclosure requirements.'

Candidates for Mayor and City Council seats throughout Florida won’t have to divulge more information about their finances to voters this election cycle after a federal judge temporarily blocked the state from enforcing a law requiring expanded disclosures.

Judge Melissa Damian of the Southern District Court of Florida ruled Monday that SB 774, passed by the Legislature last year, violates the First Amendment rights of candidates and local elected officials by compelling content-based speech. She issued a temporary injunction against the law.

Florida law requires legislators, Cabinet officials, and candidates for those positions to file a Form 6 financial disclosure every year, divulging their net worth, the value of their household goods, detailing their assets and liabilities over $1,000, and itemizing every source of income above $1,000.

Before SB 774 took effect in January, mayors and city council members were only required to file a Form 1, which required them to list significant sources of income, intangible personal property over $10,000 and real estate holdings and liabilities of more than $10,000.

“(The state has) not demonstrated a relationship between the interest of protecting against the abuse of the public trust and SB 774’s fulsome financial disclosure requirements, and history does not support or justify the need for requiring municipal elected officials and candidates to comply with the Form 6 requirements when Form 1, a less intrusive method, is available and has not been shown to be ineffective or inadequate,” Damian wrote.

Damian was appointed to the federal district court by President Joe Biden and took office in March. She served two years as a magistrate judge in the same court.

The lawsuit was filed by 26 cities and 74 public officials in February, alleging the law violated their First Amendment rights and was “highly intrusive.” The group also pointed to more than 100 resignations across the state from city boards due to the new law. The Florida Commission on Ethics, which enforces the financial disclosure laws, was named a defendant in the case.

“The Court agrees with Plaintiffs that, in light of the recent resignations of numerous municipal officials affected by SB 774, it is crucial to prioritize the public interest by ensuring that SB 774’s ongoing existence and enforcement not unnecessarily discourage more people from serving in government roles,” Damian wrote.

Gray Rohrer


  • This is ridiculous

    June 11, 2024 at 7:22 am

    Too bad all the local elected officials quit and were reappointed before this ruling came out. What is the purpose of the Florida legislature when every single session they pass illegal laws that get overturned in court. What a waste of taxpayers dollars!

    • Dont Say FLA

      June 11, 2024 at 10:00 am

      Same as with the culture wars, Florida’s G0P passes legislation they know will be turned over in court just for bragging rights about how they stuck it to the gays or the gay marrieds or the trans drag queens or whoever their latest target of ire might be.

      • Kenneth Kovar

        June 11, 2024 at 3:40 pm

        so true…

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  • Andy

    June 11, 2024 at 10:38 am

    Funny the Governor can fly all over the US, with Florida residents highest insurance costs in history, that States are responsible for, $30 million book tour. Spend tax dollars on private militias, frivolous lawsuits, and still reap from the highest insurance rates in the states, but he wants to hold local officials accountable? Sounds like a Napoleon complex!

    • Kenneth Kovar

      June 11, 2024 at 3:39 pm


  • Christian E Sarver

    June 11, 2024 at 12:32 pm

    We need this law now more than ever, especially in palm Beach county. County commissioners I’m talking directly to you. Let’s see exactly what’s going on with overdevelopment of south Florida!

    • Maggie Garcia

      June 12, 2024 at 1:34 pm

      You do know that County Commissioners in Florida have had to do form 6 for years. This lawsuit applies to city and town officials not County or State officials!

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