Ethics watchdogs sound alarms as Gov. DeSantis signs legislation limiting complaints

Ethics
Among other measures, the legislation requires complaints to be based on firsthand knowledge.

Government watchdogs are criticizing a revision in Florida ethics laws signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“This law undermines the will of the people and will allow corruption to go unchallenged,” said Amy Keith, Executive Director of Common Cause Florida.

The controversial measure (SB 7014) passed in the Senate on a 26-4 vote and in the House on a 79-34 party-line vote.

Born in the Senate Ethics Committee, the legislation purportedly seeks to limit time frames for investigating ethics complaints. It also requires public complaints be based entirely on a filer’s personal knowledge of wrongdoing, which sponsors said was to discourage “frivolous” complaints.

“I believe that state and local ethics boards should be able to spend their time investigating serious violations of our ethics laws, not politically motivated public relations stunts designed to generate headlines,” said Senate President Kathleen Passidomo in a statement when the bill passed. “All too often the current process is weaponized by bad actors.”

But critics say the bill will gut ethics enforcement completely, eliminating the ability to file anonymous complaints or tips that lead to investigations and uncover legitimate wrongdoing.

“Let’s be clear: This has never been about minimizing frivolous complaints; this is about making complaints almost impossible,” Keith said.

“If this was truly about minimizing frivolous complaints, then these changes to Florida’s ethics laws could have been introduced in committee and the public provided with the opportunity to be part of the deliberative process. Instead, these changes, which are designed to paralyze ethics complaints against public officials who have violated the public trust, were introduced at the last minute.”

Jose Arrojo, Executive Director of the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission, voiced concerns in February to the Miami Herald that the new law could limit means of even bringing ethics concerns to the attention of officials.

“No more anonymous whistleblowers. No more employees referring information to us,” Arrojo said.

Keith said the measure threatened transparency by putting hurdles and rapid time frames in place.

“The Governor and Florida Legislators who voted in favor and signed off on this new law failed to protect the integrity of our democracy. Instead, they chose to hide from accountability and silence the voices of Floridians who are trying to uphold our collective values,” she said.

“Governor DeSantis says he believes that Floridians deserve protection from corruption, but his actions today speak otherwise. Common Cause Florida will continue to defend and strengthen the core democratic structures and tools that enable the people of Florida to mobilize and hold their leaders accountable.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


9 comments

  • Elvis Pitts "The Big Voice On The Right" American

    June 23, 2024 at 9:16 am

    Good Morn ‘ting Floroda,
    Florida’s elected officials would behoove themselves to follow Ron’s Sage Leadership and Guidance.
    That Passadomo “KAREN” needs to get down off her high horse and submit to Ron’s great leadership and guidance as The Head of The State.
    I just hope this “KAREN” has not made a Panty Waist out of her lonh suffering husband.
    Say …. wasent Passadomo “The Karen” the same idiot that prevented Constotutional Open Carry In Florida? Yes she is one in the same “KAREN”.
    We dont like her.
    This snippit of SAGE SUNDAY MORN ‘TING WISDOM has been brought to you Free Of Charge by Elvis Pitts American

    • Mac Wiseman

      June 23, 2024 at 9:23 am

      Well now Elvis,
      Now that I think about it I also dislike the Karen/RINO Passadomo.
      Thanks for the guidance Elvis,
      Mac Wiseman
      Cape Coral Florida

  • PeterH

    June 23, 2024 at 9:59 am

    Perpetuating corruption and grifting is endemic in the Republican mindset. Republicans blame anyone for anything that they themselves are guilty. They’ve played that game since Reagan!

  • Paul Passarelli

    June 23, 2024 at 11:02 am

    the article states:
    “But critics say the bill will gut ethics enforcement completely, eliminating the ability to file anonymous complaints or tips that lead to investigations and uncover legitimate wrongdoing.

    Really? Please cite examples of anonymous complaints resulting in corrective action. Nothing gets done until someone stands up and says “I was wronged.” or “I observed so-and-so commit a wrongdoing.” This self righteous bullshit accomplishes nothing.

    “Let’s be clear: This has never been about minimizing frivolous complaints; this is about making complaints almost impossible,” Keith said.”

    Let’s be really clear. Government workers who would not stand up and file a complaint as what the Klingons call “a waste of skin”. they are parasites on the system, gutless feckless, automatons that do not deserve to be paid from the taxpayers dole.

    What I’m saying is if you work under a corrupt official and you would keep silent to keep your job, then you are partly guilty of the boss’s corruption.

    • My Take

      June 23, 2024 at 3:50 pm

      Let’s be really clear. Government workers who would not stand up and file a complaint as what the Klingons call “a waste of skin”. they are parasites on the system, gutless feckless, automatons that do not deserve to be paid from the taxpayers dole.

      What I’m saying is if you work under a corrupt official and you would keep silent to keep your job, then you are partly guilty of the boss’s corruption.
      =============

      Always blame the little guy.
      And help cover the big crook.

  • Michael K

    June 23, 2024 at 11:26 am

    It takes great courage to be a whistleblower which can result in the loss of one’s livelihood, retribution, and even threats and violence. Unethical behavior goes hand in hand with the erosion of Sunshine Laws, lack of transparency and accountability – all notably and disturbingly present under this administration.

  • PeterH

    June 23, 2024 at 11:38 am

    Transparency…..what transparency? The architects bent on dismantling our economy, Democracy and government …..have been diligently at work for the past four years. On the National level “Project 2025” in collusion with the once great conservative think tank “Heritage Foundation” have been busy strategizing the dismantling federal agencies like the Department of Education, Judiciary and Internal Revenue Service. Imbedded in this national strategy is the importance to silence YOU at the State level. Trumpism will have no guard rails this time around. His 2020 attempted coup will be realized.

  • Billy Nash

    June 23, 2024 at 12:23 pm

    DeSantis and his cronies obviously have a lot to hide. He is ruining the state of Florida.

  • Deadly Florida

    June 23, 2024 at 6:06 pm

    A 60-year-old dentist from Tampa, Florida, who praised “The Great Donald Trump” and sent no less than 100 violent and threatening messages to over 40 victims including a reverend, politician and others who he allegedly insulted with bigoted or racial slurs, has been arrested.

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704