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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mike Haridopolos ethics bill surfaces



The same Florida Senate committee that rapped Senate President Mike Haridopolos for filling out sloppy financial disclosure forms heard a bill Tuesday that would give future lawmakers a more guidance on how to file the documents.

The proposal by Haridopolos and the Rules Committee also would make it tougher for legislators to vote if they have a conflict of interest. Under the bill, a lawmaker can’t vote on an issue (the budget and implementing bills excluded) that “inures” to his, his family’s or his company’s special financial gain.

That language was copied word for word from Sen. Paula Dockery’s ethics legislation, though it didn’t go as far as the Lakeland Senator wants. She wants to bar lawmakers from participating behind the scenes in legislation that could exclusively benefit them, their family or their employer.

Haridopolos’ office struck Dockery’s original bill from a committee agenda last week, but made sure to include some of her legislation in his ethics package. The core of his bill would require the state’s ethics commission to review the public disclosure forms of each legislator. If the commission spots a problem, a lawmaker has 30 days to fix his forms or face automatic penalties.

Haridopolos had repeatedly “inadvertently” failed to properly disclose his finances, leading to an ethics complaint that ultimately led Rules Chairman John Thrasher to formally admonish Haridopolos on the Senate floor – a rare occurrence.

If Haridopolos bill passes, a lawmaker would be immune from an investigation and punishment, unless it's shown he intentionally filed false disclosure forms.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 8:08pm]


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