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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

When it doesn't pass the smell test



State Rep. Ron Reagan, a Bradenton Republican, was offered a part-time job as a community relations consultant with a garbage disposal company. Among his duties would be polishing the company's image "through creative uses of the news media."

Reagan, a 52-year-old insurance agent, wanted to be sure the job would not run afoul of Florida's conflict of interest laws, so he asked the Commission on Ethics for a legal opinion. No problem, the commission 's staff said in August, because the work would clearly be "separate and distinct" from Reagan's work as a legislator.

Well, the nine-member ethics commission didn't see it that way, and ordered its own staff to get tougher with Reagan and issue an opinion expressing the opposite view. The revised opinion, to be voted on at the panel's Oct. 20 meeting, says that it would be impossible to distinguish Reagan's dual roles as public official and paid consultant to a garbage company. In addition, the new draft opinion states, "the local governments you would interact with on behalf of the company could feel unduly pressured to yield to your influence."

Reagan was recently re-elected without opposition to a third term. He is chairman of the House Ethics and Elections Committee.   

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:50pm]


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