Saturday, September 22, 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.

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Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18