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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The Fresen case comes before the ethics commission. Again.

23

January

Will Friday be the day the state Commission on Ethics ends its ongoing feud with state Rep. Erik Fresen?

The saga dates back to December 2012, when the commission determined that Fresen had failed to properly report his income and liabilities on his annual financial disclosure.

Fresen conceded there had been some mistakes and amended the forms.

But even after Fresen reached an agreement with ethics commission advocate Diane Guillemette in October, the commission wasn't ready to move on.

The commissioners were irked that Fresen had never paid a $1,500 ethics fine assessed to him in 2003. (The penalthy was the result of his not filing a financial disclosure while working as a legislative aide the year before.)

Fresen said he had no knowledge of the fine until 2012, when was no longer required to pay.

Ethics commissioners wanted Fresen to cut a check as a show of "good faith."

Fresen refused.

When he failed to pay by December, the commission rejected his stipulation with the chief advocate, and likened the situation to bank robbery.

Fresen's attorney J.C. Planas and Guillemette will return to the commission on Friday with a revised version of the agreement. The new agreement will note Fresen's refusal to pay the $1,500 fine, Planas said.

Planas stressed that the commission has no authority to collect the fine.

"There is nothing for them to do but accept the stipulation and move it on to the House," Planas said. "Hopefully, the executive director has informed the commissioners of the limited options before them."

The commission could, however, reject the stipulation for second time.

That move would likely prompt the Division of Administrative Hearings to get involved.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 23, 2014 5:28pm]

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