A pioneer of sorts: Sen. Simpson posts first net worth form online
Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, is one of the Senate's newest members and one of its wealthiest, with a net worth of nearly $15.6 million.
So perhaps it's fitting that the successful Pasco County farmer and businessman has earned a most unusual distinction: He's the first elected official whose financial disclosure form is posted online under the ethics law passed by the 2013 Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.
You can find Simpson's form here: http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/211905-Form6.pdf
The ethics bill (SB 2) was a top priority of legislative leaders, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, was insistent that the public should have easy access to elected officials' financial disclosure forms, which have been required since the mid-1970s but never were available online -- until now. On Friday, the IT staff members at the Commission on Ethics had fine-tuned Internet access to the forms; coincidentally, Friday also was the deadline for the state to mail the forms to elected officials. They are due July 1; Simpson simply filed his weeks ahead of the deadline.
(Some forms are online: the state Division of Elections posts Form 6s filed by candidates when they qualify to run for office. But the year-to-year forms of incumbents have not been online).
Simpson's Form 6 shows that two major clients of his firm, Simpson Environmental Services Inc., are Publix Supermarkets and SFB Turnpike Joint Venture, the firm that operates rest stops on Florida's Turnpike. He owns $1.3 million in stock in Florida Traditions Bank, where he also serves as a member of the board of directors; Simpson also is a director of the Florida Farm Bureau. The statement is a reflection of Simpson's assets and liabilities as of Dec. 31, 2012, as required by law.
About 1,400 elected officials in Florida must annually file a full statement of financial interests. They include the governor and all three Cabinet members, legislators, all constitutional officers such as sheriffs, tax collectors and supervisors of election, and county commissioners and school board members. All circuit and county court judges also must file the forms, but judges' forms were excluded from the online requirement, the ethics commission said.
The new online system also will have a feature that sharp-eyed citizens (and reporters) will appreciate: You can view "fines accrued" by elected officials.