July 19, 2011 •
Boynton Beach to Consider Options in Lobbying Law Enforcement
The city attorney for Boynton Beach, Jim Cherof, has proposed ceasing enforcement of the city’s lobbying ordinance and turning over enforcement to the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics. The lobbying ordinance, in effect since 2007, has come under fire recently due to a perceived vagueness in the law.
This past May, the city levied the first fines ever under the ordinance and has also taken steps to open an investigation against former city commissioner David Katz, all concerning failure to register as a lobbyist. Each fine is being appealed and Katz maintains he was never required to register under the law because he was performing consulting work and not lobbying.
July 11, 2011 •
Commission Meetings Must Adhere to New Limitations
The Palm Beach County Ethics Commission has voted to limit the public’s ability to speak on items during final hearings prior to a vote or comment at closed-door sessions where decisions on the pursuit of ethics complaints are made.
The limits are intended to limit decisions being made by members of the commission to the guidance of the ethics code and avoid allowing influence from outside the code to be taken into consideration at a final vote.
Public comment will still be allowed concerning commission policies and on other issues being considered.
July 5, 2011 •
Here are highlights from the latest edition of News You Can Use:
From the States and Municipalities:
State and Federal Communications produces a weekly summary of national news, offering more than 80 articles per week focused on ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.
News You Can Use is a news service provided at no charge only to clients of our online Executive Source Guides, or ALERTS™ consulting clients.
Jim Sedor is editor of News You Can Use.
June 23, 2011 •
The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust has named Joseph Centorino as its finalist for the position of executive director.
Centorino has served as chief of the Public Corruption Division of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office since 1995 and was a prosecutor within the organization an additional nine years. Centorino will succeed Robert Meyers, who has held the post since the Ethics Commission was established.
Meyers announced his resignation earlier this year, but will assist in the transition over the next several weeks.
May 20, 2011 •
Expected to be Selected During Summer
Members of the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission will have 39 applicants to choose from when replacing current Executive Director Robert Meyers, who is resigning his position after 12 years with the commission.
Included in the 39 applicants, among other professions, are two retired former Miami-Dade prosecutors, a former assistant attorney general, an assistant public defender, and a former daytime television judge.
The commission is expected to narrow the list of candidates at their upcoming meeting on May 26, 2011. After narrowing the list, interviews of the finalists will take place and a new executive director is expected to be named during the summer.
March 7, 2011 •
Lobbyists will soon be required to register due to an ordinance recently passed by the Tallahassee city commissioners.
Effective April 1, 2011, lobbyists will be required to register with the city treasurer-clerk prior to engaging in any lobbying. Lobbyists will be required to pay a fee of $25 for each principal represented. Additionally, each lobbying firm may register in the name of the firm, corporation, or legal entity, provided the registration lists the names of all persons who engage in lobbying for the firm.
Further, each lobbying firm will be required to file a quarterly compensation report during each calendar quarter during any portion of which the lobbyist or lobbying firm was registered to represent a principal. A provision was also included in the ordinance stating the annual period of registration will be the calendar year, ending December 31, and noted the first period of registration will begin on the ordinance’s effective date of April 1, 2011, and all registrations during the 2011 year after such time will end on December 31, 2011.
January 24, 2011 •
We are heading to the PAC Grassroots Conference tomorrow!
Elizabeth Bartz and several staff members from State and Federal Communications will be attending the Public Affairs Council’s National Grassroots Conference in Key West, Florida from January 25-28.
The conference is offering an exciting lineup of speakers presenting on grassroots leadership, best practices, and the use of social media.
If you are attending, be sure to stop by and say hello! We would be pleased to see you!
December 30, 2010 •
A grand jury convened to investigate government corruption has issued its first interim report.
The report makes various recommendations, including the elimination of “3-pack” advertising, where a political party may advertise jointly for three or more candidates without it being considered a contribution to any candidate.
The report also recommends a lifetime ban on vendors entering into any contract with Florida if convicted of a crime involving theft or procurement with the state.
Among the other suggestions the grand jury makes is a requirement candidates receive election and campaign finance law training. “Election and campaign laws constitute an intricate blanket of laws which can lead an honest and sincere public official or candidate to run afoul even with the best efforts to comply,” the report states.
The statewide grand jury had been called by Governor Christ and heard testimony for ten months.
December 22, 2010 •
The Broward County Commission has passed a new ethics law aimed at instituting a new standard of ethical behavior on all county employees.
The new ethics code is an extension of previous code which had been passed during the summer of 2010 to institute such a standard on the county commissioners. Following a training session scheduled for spring of 2011, all county employees who receive perishable gifts will be required to place them in an area where other employees and the public will be free to enjoy them, while non-perishable gifts will have to be turned over to the administration to be put to the public use.
Further, employees will not be permitted to accept personal gifts outside the office which could be perceived as being intended to influence their decisions as an employee of Broward County.
November 23, 2010 •
A bill to include an ethics code in the city charter of Jacksonville is set to go before the full city council.
Since first being filed in July, the bill has moved slowly through committees until finally being approved by the city council Finance Committee on November 10, 2011. The bill has met delays in the process, as recommendations for the bill from the Ethics Commission and Charter Revision Commission have called for separate amendments to be made. However, when a meeting was scheduled for the two committees to meet and settle their differences, no members of the Charter Revision Commission were in attendance.
One of the biggest critics of the ethics legislation has been Jim Catlett, one of the owners of a firm which has performed lobbying services on behalf of several city agencies. Catlett was also a member of the Charter Revision Commission, and even made the motion to place ethics back into the city’s charter. But Catlett is now speaking out against the legislation, arguing it would create a new level of bureaucracy for the city which is unnecessary at the present time.
Flag of Jacksonville by Ssolbergj on Wikipedia.
November 2, 2010 •
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle denied a request for a preliminary injunction against a Florida law that requires two or more people who want to contribute or expend $500 on a ballot issue to form a political action committee.
The plaintiffs, four Sarasota, Florida residents seeking to pool their monetary resources to buy radio ads against a proposed state constitutional amendment on the November ballot, wanted to avoid registration as a political action committee and disclosure requirements required of their desired radio advertisement.
“This ruling means that our clients will not be able to speak freely in the 2010 election,” said Paul Sherman, attorney for The Institute for Justice, who represented the plaintiffs.
For the complete story, here are two articles:
“Judge won’t block Fla. campaign law enforcement,” by Bill Kaczor in the Miami Herald.
“Judge refuses to throw out political-committee requirement of campaign finance law,” from the Central Florida Political Pulse blog on the Orlando Sentinel.
Photo of the Old Florida Capitol building by Diligent Terrier on Wikipedia.
October 27, 2010 •
A federal judge in Florida has questioned the motive behind a recent lawsuit over the state’s campaign finance requirements.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle has questioned whether the suit regarding a law which requires registration and reporting by political action committees contributing or expending in excess of $500 is “just a little too convenient,” as the suit was filed merely a month prior to the upcoming election and the plaintiffs in the action are reportedly seeking to spend $600. The judge has yet to rule on a temporary injunction on enforcement of the law, as the plaintiffs, represented by The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, ultimately seek to have the law completely thrown out.
Map of Florida from the National Atlas of the United States.
October 18, 2010 •
Commission to Review Ethics Rules
Potential loopholes in the recently passed Palm Beach County Ethics Ordinance have some lawmakers once again working on ethics legislation. The new ethics rules, which went into effect on May 1, 2010, require a financial benefit to result from prohibited conduct, but do not include other benefits derived which are not financial in nature.
A proposed revision is in the early stages of legislation. Since 2006, four county commissioners have resigned their positions to face criminal charges over their misuse of office. Despite the potential loopholes, commissioners still hope the ethics reforms which took effect earlier this year will result in ethical relief to the scandal-plagued county.
October 11, 2010 •
The city council is expected to vote on a new ordinance concerning the creation of an independent ethics commission at the next city council meeting.
During a recent session of the council Rules Committee, the measure received unanimous support, with similar support expected before the full council at their Tuesday, October 12, 2010 meeting.
The new ordinance not only creates an independent ethics commission, but also provides for the operation of an ethics hotline and the mandatory ethics training of all consolidated government officials within 90 days of being elected. The ordinance, if passed, would reinstitute ethics features similar to the city’s originally chartered Code of Ethics, which was removed in the early 1970’s reportedly due to potential conflicts with a new statewide ethics law adopted by the Florida legislature which covered all public officials.
Photo of Jacksonville skyline by Jonathan Zander on Wikipedia.
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