Panel makes recommendations for combatting public corruption
How crooked are Florida politics? Well, from 1998 to 2007, Florida led the nation in the number of federally convicted public officials, according to a report released today by a statewide grand jury convened in February. Total convictions from Florida in that period topped 800. New York placed second, with about 700 convictions.
The intro to the 127-page report includes some interesting philosophizing about ethics in the political realm, including this nugget: "Unfortunately, one only needs to read the newspaper headlines across the State of Florida to realize that public corruption is pervasive at all levels of government. Recent public opinion polls show that a record number of Americans believe public officials are untrustworthy. Anticorruption reform is critical to restoring that trust." The panel also notes: "If democracy is sustained by public trust, it is understandable why we need rules addressing ethics, conflicts of interest, and disclosure of personal finances."
Among the recommendations made by the panel: Expand the definition of public employees to include private employees with government contracts; creating sentencing enhancements for offenses committed by officials who use their public position to facilitate their crimes; create an independent State Office of Inspector General to oversee agency inspectors general; expand the definition of criminal bid tampering to include bid-rigging schemes; and authorize the Ethics Commission to initiate investigations. To read the entire report, click on the link below.