Tallahassee, Florida -- A government watchdog group Integrity Florida has published Corruption Risk Report: Financial Disclosure. Integrity Florida is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption.
Some of the key findings in the report sent to the 10 News Investigators in a July 30 press release are:
- 11 legislators worked for lobbying firms during the 2012 session
- 12 legislators disclosed a total of 33 potential voting conflicts in 2012
- More than $100,000 in gifts reported by legislators and top state officials in 2012
- 4,284 current Florida public officials and employees failed to disclose 2012 financial interests as of July 26, 2012
- 66 current and former Florida officials and employees owe a total of $87,199.03 in fines for late filing of financial interests in past years as of July 9, 2012
Key Integrity Florida Recommendation: Florida should adopt the more detailed financial disclosure form used by Louisiana. The clearest way to see where Florida needs to go to improve financial disclosure is to compare the 2011 financial disclosures of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
According to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), Florida earned a D grade, ranking 26th in the U.S. for financial disclosure in 2009. Louisiana ranked No. 1 on CPI's disclosure ranking, up from 44th in 2006. Jindal worked with his state legislature in 2008 to pass new ethics laws that moved their state from the bottom to the top of the list.
Louisiana Economic Development, the state's counterpart to Enterprise Florida and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, touts ethics reform on its website.
Jindal said he set out to "completely transform the ethics laws in (his) state to encourage increased business investment and job creation".
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Louisiana has maintained a lower unemployment rate than Florida every month from January 2008 through June 2012.
Key Integrity Florida Recommendation: The public should have access to an online, searchable database of state officials' financial disclosure information, potential voting conflicts and gifts received.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, 27 states put financial disclosure filings of state officials online, but Florida does not. Integrity Florida has posted more than 600 documents online, including the personal financial disclosure filings from 2011, 2010 and the first term in office for Florida's legislators and top state officials to www.integrityflorida.org.