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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Report: No FIU penalty for illegal lobbying



It's most unusual that a state university would face the grim prospect of appearing before the Commission on Ethics. But Florida International University (FIU) finds itself in that position as a result of its own making: For more than four years, an investigation has concluded, the school used public funds to pay an outside lobbyist, Fausto Gomez, in violation of state law.

FIU fired Gomez earlier this year. State agencies can only pay salaries to lobbyists who are full-time employees, and the law (11.062) states that a person who takes money under those circumstances can be banned from lobbying for up to two years.

The FIU case will go before the ethics commission Friday with a staff recommendation that the school face no fine or other action because it was FIU general counsel Cristina Mendoza who brought the matter to the attention of the ethics commission in the first place. As advocate James Peterson wrote in an eight-page report: "The forthright candor of the University officials is also noteworthy." Read the full report here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 2:41pm]


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