Integrity Florida Makes Waves

They’ve only been in business for one year, but already a dynamic duo has a chance to make major changes to state ethics laws.

“Florida is leading the country in corruption and it’s time to crack down,” said Dan Krassner.

Dan Krassner and Ben Willcox created Integrity Florida to make government more transparent. It appears to be working.

At a pre-legislative session forum in the state capitol Wednesday, House Speaker Will Weatherford sang the groups praises.

“I though Integrity Florida’s report talking about 75% of the money spent on campaigns today is outside of the campaign, is eye opening,” said Weatherford.

Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz have made ethics reform a priority, vowing to pass the first comprehensive reform package in Florida in 36 years.

“We don’t believe that public office ought to be an opportunity for private gain,” said Gaetz.

A 52 page reform bill has already passed one committee in the senate. Krassner says there’s lot of good stuff inside, but there’s also provisions hurting the cause.

The bill allows law enforcement agencies to pass leads on to the state ethic commission. It allows the state to garnish wages of people who don’t pay their ethics fines, but it also gives politicians caught lying on their financial disclosure forms 30 days to fix the mistake.

“There are a few areas that need to be cleaned up that essentially give some politicians a get-out-of-jail free card and those provisions should be taken out of the bill,” said Krassner.

Had the change been in place in 2010, Former State Senator Jim Norman could have simply added a half million dollar home to a form and avoid the ethics commission.

Legislative leaders are also vowing to shut the revolving door between the legislature and lobbyists, after finding out that the state’s last two house speakers have joined up to open their own Tallahassee lobbying firm.