Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan admits to ethics violations

The commissioner is fined for failing to fully disclose his financial assets.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan admitted to improperly filing financial disclosure forms for 12 years, though he will be held accountable only for 2009 through 2013.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan admitted to improperly filing financial disclosure forms for 12 years, though he will be held accountable only for 2009 through 2013.
Published December 10 2014
Updated December 11 2014

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan has agreed to pay a $2,000 fine after admitting he violated state ethics laws by failing to properly disclose assets on annual financial disclosure forms.

Hagan made the admission as part of a November deal with the chief prosecutor for the Florida Commission on Ethics.

As part of that agreement, Hagan admitted that he failed to properly disclose financial investments during the reporting periods in 2009 through 2013.

Also under the deal, he promised to file disclosure forms correctly in the future and submit amended forms pertaining to each year of violation, something he has now done, the agreement said.

"After receiving the complaint, I reviewed the statutes and, unfortunately, I've been filing my disclosure incorrectly," Hagan said. "I filed my annual financial disclosure the exact same way for 12 years. Unfortunately, for 12 years, I've not provided enough specificity in identifying stocks, bonds and mutual funds that I own."

Because the commission considers only violations going back five years, it did not investigate Hagan's financial reports before 2009, though Hagan said that if the commission wanted to go back to 2002, he would "have no problem with it."

In all, the commissioner admitted in the agreement to improperly listing his investments on five financial disclosure forms.

Hagan, a Republican who was first elected to the County Commission in 2002 and won re-election to the countywide District 5 seat without opposition this year, said he accepts full responsibility and vowed to not make the same mistake again.

The agreement signed by Hagan on Nov. 17 must still be ratified by the full ethics commission.

The commission is set to meet Friday to consider the deal. Hagan said he's "hopeful" the panel will accept it.

Political activist George Niemann prompted the commission's investigation after filing a complaint in July. He alleged that Hagan failed to provide details about his investments on financial disclosure forms, which are required yearly of elected and other government officials, between 2002 and 2012.

"The instructions on the form are crystal clear," he said.

The complaint was "unquestionably" politically motivated, Hagan said. "The complainant has filed numerous complaints in the past, and unfortunately he's more concerned about grandstanding than good government," the commissioner said.

Niemann said he's satisfied by the agreement, though he'd prefer that Hagan formally admit to mistakes going back to 2002.

"In general, I'm happy that he's agreed to provide the information at least to 2009, and he is getting a financial penalty," said Niemann, who has no party affiliation. "He admitted to wrongdoing, and in future filings he will properly disclose."

As of 2013, Hagan's net worth was $981,663, according to his amended 2013 disclosure. He had $400,421 in a Wells Fargo investment account, which included $29,109 in McDonald's stock and $20,550 in AMC Entertainment stock. He also listed a $296,158 Wells Fargo money market account and a $219,990 UBS retirement account.

Times staff writer Josh Solomon contributed to this report. Contact Rich Shopes at rshopes@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3368. Follow @richshopes.

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