Gov. Rick Scott gives Speaker Corcoran an earful about ethics
As the Florida House embarks on aggressive ethics reform mission that will target the Legislature and executive branch, House Speaker Richard Corcoran asked Gov. Rick Scott's office for suggestions. On Thursday, Corcoran got an earful of suggestions, at least one of which appears to be directed at Corcoran himself.
A letter from Scott's chief of staff, Kim McDougal, to Corcoran's chief of staff, Matt Bahl, proposes a series of changes, including closing the loophole that allows legislators to fly on planes chartered by political parties and political committees; requiring legislators to disclose cases in which they are seeking state money for non-profit groups; and prohibiting lawmakers from suing state agencies.
Another Scott suggestion would prohibit legislators from working for law firms that lobby the Legislature, a proposed change that strikes at the very heart of how Florida's "citizen Legislature" operates. McDougal's letter described the change as a needed safeguard "to ensure that all funding decisions are made free from any undue influence, whether real or perceived."
Corcoran is of counsel to Broad & Cassel, a firm with a lobbying presence at the state Capitol. Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, is of counsel to Gunster, a West Palm Beach-based firm that also lobbies the Legislature. Read the letter here
At a news conference Thursday, Corcoran responded to the letter: "I applaud the governor. I don't care that it takes (until) Year Seven to come out with some ethics ideas. I'll take them in Year Eight ... It's something to be applauded. I don't think anybody would argue that nobody has done more to restrain the behavior of legislators and rein in relationships that are questionable between legislators and lobbyists and legislators and special interests than the House has done on our own."