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Ethics panel approves Sen. Pres. ethics violation plea

With almost no discussion, the Florida Commission on Ethics accepted a de facto guilty/no contest plea from Senate President Mike Haridopolos over his failure to properly fill out his financial disclosure forms over a period of five years. Download Stipulation

But due to constitutional rules, the commission can't set a fine or penalty, so the Senate's Rules Committee, chaired by Haridopolos friend and appointee, Sen. John Thrasher, must decide a penalty. Thrasher said he'll ask veteran legislative staffer/Florida historian/Rules staff director John Phelps to research the matter and make a recommendation to the full committee.

Haridopolos' lawyer, Pete Dunbar, says Haridopolos shouldn't pay any more money. "The embarrassment is enough." Dunbar noted these were "clerical errors" by Haridopolos, who failed to list addresses and, on a few occasions, failed to disclose income to his consulting business, MJH Consulting.

Just before Haridopolos' case, the commission slapped a $3,000 fine on South Palm Beach Mayor Marty Millar for allegedly misusing his official position during a strip club altercation at Rachel's "to intimidate or impress a club manager and police officers to secure special privilege and benefit . . . for himself.” Dunbar said Haridopolos' case is completely different because the senate president didn't misuse his office. He just failed to fill out forms properly.

Dunbar pointed out that, as soon as the complaint against Haridopolos was filed by Vero Beach retiree Eugene "Bucky" Benson, Haridopolos corrected his forms and didn't fight the commission.

In an email to reporters, Benson had little good to say about the process. He accused Haridopolos of being "deliberately devious" in his complaint. And he thinks the ethics process isn't much better:

"The biggest farce in the world is that Dec.3  Ethics Commision session. The Florida legislature snookered Florida taxpayers into thinking that it governs "in the sunshine" and the Ethics Commission is the taxpayer's watchdog. A former Commission Chairman characterized the  Haridopolos non-compliances as minor bookkeeping errors.
 
"Firstly: anyone who challenges a legislator's financial disclosure is immediately disadvantaged by the following statute: 34-8.009  Amended Filing.

"(1)  A person may amend his or her full and public disclosure of financial interests to add to or modify the information reported on the form as originally filed at any time after filing the  disclosure form.  The amended filing shall be filed with the same office where the original form was filed and shall be on the form prescribed by the Commission, CE Form 6X, adopted by reference in Rule 34-7.010, F.A.C.

"Amended filing is precisely what keeps Haridopolos from any penalty, even though his non-compliances were patently fraudulent, devious and 5 years in the making.
 
"Secondly: The disclosure form (Form 6) requires sworn statement as to the verity of information provided; 5 years in a row Haridopolos "swore" that his information was truthful and complete. Elsewhere in the statutes is the following:
 
"Section 817.155, Florida Statutes, states that it is a third-degree felony to sign a document he or she knows is false in any material respect.
 
"Strangely, 817.155 does not apply to Legislators and Ethics  Commission personnel - unless some lawyer attempts to prosecute such personnel under that statute.
 
"Unknown to average citizens, Florida lawmakers are raking in millions in special interest political contributions through Committees of Continuing Existence. No oversight by anyone!
 
"The NY Times reported (12/13/08) that Florida was the most corrupt of  50 states analyzed for the period 1997-2000, with 824 officials found guilty in federal courts; Texas was second with 704.
 
"A Press Journal Opinion (11/10/10) identified the Florida Legislature at a rank of 26 in the Center for Public Releases Report of 2009; i.e.- 25 states were better and 24 were worse in their financial disclosure activities.
 
"No further comments are needed."
 

Comments

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Scott is a Crook & so is Mikey

RPOF are a Bunch of Crooks and the people of Florida who voted them in are either Greedy old farts or just plain stupid

sandnsurf57

Because some liberal newspaper said Florida was a corrupt state...TEN YEARS AGO...Florida's a corrupt place?

Wow, this Benson guy's a superstar. Wonder who put him up to this.

LizaH22

9:50 thinks people who disagree with him are just plain stupid. Typical liberal. Haridopolis fixed his forms. That's not something a crook does.

mi_orgullo51

@LizaH22 girl this guy and all his Rethug cronies are dirty you know that.

DannyM831

@orgullo I know what Democrat cronies like to do, and it's little complaints like this, because they know the media will go along with it.

cvthomas

Alternate headline: Media throws a hissyfit over a Republican because of paperwork corrections because he's a Republican. Where's the post about unemployment getting up to 9.8%? Instead, it's about this and Marco not going on a cruise.

I give up.

profan3senshi

Yes, cvthomas, this is definitely a more distressing thing than higher unemployment numbers, higher taxes coming in less than 4 weeks and continued gridlock on how to cut spending with the Deficit Commission coming up empty. Nothing does better with the ratings than sexy stories of amended document filings.

LizaH22

orgullo, quit with the name calling. You democrats are the WORST when it comes to corruption! How about Rangel and ACORN and all the rest?

The only thugs around here wear Democrat BLUE!

Baseball Hats

Good post. I am also going to write a blog post about this...I enjoyed reading your post and I like your take on the issue. Thanks.

Muckraker

What Kind Of People Don't Think the Fed's
Serving Them A Subpoena "Is No Big Deal…"??

http://www.practicalstate.com/?p=3819

Cheers

Commentator

Has there been any talk regarding Adam Hasner running for Senate? I’ve heard talk regarding him thinking about it, and when I logged in to Facebook I got this link today. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Miami-Dade-for-Adam-Hasner-2012/165635680149736?v=wall

Does anyone have any info regarding if he is running? I’ll admit, Hasner is a very very exciting candidate. He is a republican, and a supporter of green energy, and for the past few years has been on the forefront of the fight for better education as well as education reform.

Im very excited, and I think everyone should look into Adam!

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