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Sink calls for sweeping ethics reform

TALLAHASSEE — Amid a backdrop of recent political scandals, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink on Thursday joined the chorus calling for sweeping ethics reforms.

Sink, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, outlined an 11-point plan to restore trust in government.

"The people of Florida — it's easy to see they've lost faith in government, so I believe it's past time to change the rules," she said.

The proposals take aim at the culture of corruption on display in the past year — from the resignation and indictment of former House Speaker Ray Sansom and the financial calamity at the Republican Party of Florida to the guilty plea of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, who cut big checks to Sink, the Democratic Party and numerous GOP officials that were later returned.

Seizing on the controversy surrounding the GOP credit cards, Sink called for full disclosure of all party statements. Republican Party officials are refusing to release them.

Other parts of her plan include outlawing lobbyist gifts to state employees, preventing elected officials from voting when they have a personal financial interest at stake, and expanding the authority of the Commission on Ethics to launch investigations.

Sink took her plan a step further by suggesting the expansion of whistle-blower protections to those who reveal information to the media, and a requirement for political parties to more regularly disclose campaign finance information ahead of elections.

One suggestion took an overtly political tone: A ban on no-bid contracts to campaign consultants.

It's a shot at Attorney General Bill McCollum, her Republican rival for governor, who in 2009 gave the same Philadelphia firm that worked on his 2006 campaign no-bid contracts worth $1.4 million to produce and buy TV time for a public service announcement.

The ad featured McCollum promoting awareness about Internet predators.

Democrats called it a thinly disguised campaign commercial using state funds.

McCollum on Thursday called Sink's new plan "a political ploy."

But he is also pushing for transparency.

His top legislative priority would post legal contracts with outside firms online along with payment information.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Sink calls for sweeping ethics reform 02/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2010 10:54pm]
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