Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida needs to toughen charity laws

This week's arrest of four Florida men accused of hiring felons to solicit donations for a dubious charity in the name of fallen police officers is a step in the right direction toward protecting donors and reputable charities. But the minimal penalty the suspects will face if convicted is a reminder of just how much more needs to be done in Florida. Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose officers made the arrests, has made a start at holding charities to better account, but the Legislature needs to do its part by toughening state regulations.

The arrests of phone room managers for the Police Protective Fund — in Clearwater, Port Richey, New Port Richey and Davie — came three years after the state first got wind the charity was skirting a state law that prohibits charities and professional solicitors from knowingly employing telemarketers who have been convicted of fraud and other financial felonies. As a recent Tampa Bay Times/Center for Investigative Reporting investigation of the nation's worst charities found, back then regulators found at least five employees who had been convicted of fraud, theft and armed robbery. The charity claimed it couldn't afford background checks and regulators dropped it.

Yet between 2001 and 2010, the Police Protective Fund pulled in as much as $35 million, with $15 million of that total going to cover solicitor fees. Tax records show a paltry $260,000 went in direct cash aid to promote officer safety and provide help to the families of slain law enforcement officers.

If convicted, the four men arrested this week would face just $500 per violation. Putnam wants lawmakers to increase such penalties, among many other reforms. The Legislature needs to sign on. There should be no cover for pseudo charities rolling in the dough by bilking well-meaning Americans out of their money.

Comments
Editorial: Tone down the rhetoric, focus on counting votes

Editorial: Tone down the rhetoric, focus on counting votes

President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott should stop making unfounded claims of voter fraud.
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Editorial: Get Hillsborough transit priorities in shape

Editorial: Get Hillsborough transit priorities in shape

Hillsborough County scored a historic win this month when voters approved a one-cent sales tax to pay for transportation improvements. The $9 billion or more it will generate over the next 30 years should transform mobility across the region and impr...
Published: 11/12/18
Editorial: Deadly danger of wrong-way driving

Editorial: Deadly danger of wrong-way driving

The state is taking action to minimize wrong-way crashes
Published: 11/11/18
Updated: 11/12/18
Editorial: Makeover on the Pinellas School Board

Editorial: Makeover on the Pinellas School Board

Three veterans depart, clearing the way for new faces
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/12/18

Editorial: Count every vote

Elections have two parts: You vote, then count the vote. Floridians did their part by turning out in record numbers in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Now it falls to local election supervisors to ensure that every vote is accurately counted.
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/12/18
Editorial: A progressive shift in Hillsborough

Editorial: A progressive shift in Hillsborough

Tuesday’s elections should create a more constructive climate in Hillsborough politics, easing the social wars in recent years between Democrats and Republicans that too often resulted in polarizing urban and suburban constituencies.
Published: 11/09/18
Editorial: A smart plan for helping mom-and-pops

Editorial: A smart plan for helping mom-and-pops

St. Petersburg would limit the size of storefronts on two commercial corridors
Published: 11/09/18

Editorial: Good houseguests

A donation of furniture to schools shows how thoughtful little things can make a big difference
Published: 11/09/18

Friday’s letters: Making sense of the midterms

Friday’s letters to the editor
Published: 11/09/18
A New York Times editorial: A patriot returns

A New York Times editorial: A patriot returns

His sacrifice is why we vote
Published: 11/08/18