Senate's ethics reform passes next hurdle, deflects AG's concerns
The Senate Community Affairs Committee unanimously passed the high-priority Senate bill out of committee this morning, only after deflecting some controversy.
The committee adopted an amendment that Ethics Committee chairman Sen. Jack Latvala said was intended to provide more flexibility to city and county officials who want to take a job on the public payroll after being elected to office. One size doesn't fit all, was the argument, and Latvala said the so-called revolving door provision in the sweeping ethics reform was the one issue he's heard the most heat about.
Officials in small cities and counties argued that they often need to take jobs in other branches of government and opposed the blanket ban on post-election employment in a new public job.
Chris Doolin, of the Small County Coalition, noted that the spirit of the bill remains: "You’re not to take a job because your’e an elected official" but, he added, people should not be barred from taking other public sector jobs for which they are qualified -- as long as they are qualified and not given special treatment.
The committee also postponed a proposed amendment seeking to end the revolving door of investigators into and out of the attorney general's shop after Attorney General Pam Bondi expressed concerns. The amendment, by Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, may come up at a future meeting after Bondi's concerns are worked out, Latvala said.
Reached earlier today by the Associated Press, Bondi said she believes there is sufficient contraints on lawyers in her office who investigate companies and then go to work for them.
“I believe that my office is very ethical and I’m extremely proud of the work my lawyers do,'' she said. "If anyone in anyway within my office violates anything they will be reported to the Florida Bar which is the appropriate authority. I am very proud of the work that my lawyers do.”