Florida Constitution: Lt. Governor has almost no duties

2:37 PM, Feb 4, 2011   |    comments
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  • Gov. Rick Scott
    

Tallahasse, Florida-- That's right, the Florida Constitution says the duties of the Lt. Governor are to be ready to take over if the governor dies or is removed from office. 

That's not exactly true, as former Governor Bob Martinez explains the Lt. Governor does have a constitutional duty. He says by constitution they just wait and see if the Governor is breathing every morning.

Martinez says he still believes in the position, but it is up to the Governor to expand the duties besides what is outlined in the constitution. 

He says the Lt. Governor needs a meaningful job assignment to make it work well. 

USF political science professor Susan MacManus agrees. She says former governor Jeb Bush made it meaningful position with his Lt. Governors Frank Brogan and Toni Jennings, while under former Governor Charlie Crist, Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp had almost nothing to do. MacManus says Crist didn't say to Kottkamp you're in charge of anything. 

But just because Jeff Kottkamp had no official duties as Lt. Governor that doesn't mean he sat in his Tallahassee office and twiddled his thumbs. Records we obtained from the state show he did a lot of traveling as Lt. Governor, but much of it was for his own personal enjoyment at taxpayer expense. That is something he has been denying since we first dogged him about the issue. 

Kottkamp told us it is critically important that he sees people to get out the message of the Governor. When we asked if several of the flights were so he could commute to Ft. Myers to the Capitol on the weekend, he said every flight has been to conduct state business. We asked if he never took flights just to be home in Ft. Myers on the weekends and then go back to work, Kottkamp said he always does state business wherever he goes. 

That's not exactly true.

In addition to the weekend trips with no business scheduled, Kottkamp also had a state trooper drive him and his family to Atlanta for a surprise birthday party for a Tallahassee lobbyist at a concert featuring Kenny Loggins. He spent $10,000 going on a family vacation before the Lt. Governor's conference in Richmond, Virginia.

Kottkamp spent more than $1. 1 million in taxpayer money with the Florida Highway Patrol. The money includes   $856,000 in salaries for FHP troopers, who are required to protect the Lieutenant Governor and $72,000 for the troopers' air travel when Kottkamp was flying.  

And even those Lt Governor's who did have assignments from the governor, it cost $424,351 just to run the office before they even got to security and travel.

But the state did away with the position from 1889 until 1969. With Governor Rick Scott's vow to re-invent government, some say the best way to make the office more efficient is to eliminate it.

Mike Deeson

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