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'The Senator from the 26th' (Mike Haridoopolos) admonished by Senate

For the first time anyone can remember around here, a Florida Senate President was admonished by his own Senate in the first week of session for breaking ethics rules -- specifically failing to fully and accurately detail his finances as required by the state Constitution.

Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, appointed to his post by Haridopolos (whom he also endorsed for U.S. Senate), never mentioned the president by name and instead referred to him as "The Senator from the 26th" District. Thrasher mentioned that the errors, from 2004-2008, were "inadvertent." Haridopolos signed a consent degree that said the errors were "neither willful nor intentional."

The decree was read on the Senate floor as Haridopolos sat with his arms slumped forward, his likely successor and friend, Don Gaetz, standing by his desk. A letter of apology from Haridopolos, who said he wasn't "trying to hide" anything, was also read on the Senate floor.

Thrasher reluctantly read his letter of admonishment of his friend, but said he appreciated Haridopolos acknowledging his errors.

Rather than end the matter quickly, Republican Sen. Jack Latvala spoke against the admonishment because of its "severity"

"I am troubled by having to vote on this," Latvala said. "Many of us have made similar mistakes."

Sen. Paula Dockery seemed to disagree. She noted that local government officials are routinely fined for failing to accurately detailing finances. Haridopolos wasn't. His punishment, under the state Constitution, can only be made by the chamber that he happens to run.

"We should pledge a procedure in place," Dockery said.

Sen. Ronda Storms said she wanted to make sure that, if the Senate codifies punishment, it needs to ensure that inadvertent errors aren't punished as if they were intentional.

 

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