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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

With 'Swiss cheese' regulations, Florida gets a C- for integrity in politics



The first time Florida Sen. Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, ran for office, he was just three years out of law school — a 28-year-old who still believed in the power of his lucky navy blue suit. As Smith puts it, he was a “nobody” from Broward County.

And yet, “these people would just show up” as he campaigned around the district. They were lobbyists. “[They’d] pat me on the back and say, ‘Hey, I want to support you,’ and then give me a bunch of checks and say: ‘Now remember me.’ ”

A new study by a journalism/watchdog organization gives the state of Florida a C- — not great, but not horrible, 18th overall — for the integrity of its political process. (Although that might be surprising to Broward residents who have seen one public official after another marched off to jail: The study focuses on the state level and looks at structure — not heads on a platter.)

The study by the Center for Public Integrity crunched more than 300 indicators for everything from how conflicts of interest are handled on the state insurance commission to how easily the public can access government information, to calculating the state’s “corruption risk” grade.

Read the story by Kenny Malone here.

For a look at how the report graded Florida's so-called "Swiss cheese" lobbying laws, click here.

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[Last modified: Monday, March 19, 2012 11:53am]


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