Hoping the third time is the charm, Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has filed an ethics bill similar to ones he filed as a state senator in 2011 and last year.
Although Fasano’s two previous attempts failed – rather quickly -- the appetite for ethics reform is seemingly insatiable this year among Republicans. Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford have branded ethics reform as the cause celebre of this year’s session that start in March.
“I’m very optimistic, the leadership, the tone from both leaders gives us hope that if not our legislation, something similar to our legislation will deal with these issues,” Fasano said Thursday.
Fasano’s HB 233 has five key recommendations:
1) Require that the governor and cabinet members place their investment holdings in blind trusts to prevent making decisions that could benefit them.
2) Prohibit elected and public officials from voting on anything that could financially benefit them or their relatives and business associates.
3) Require financial disclosures from more public officials.
4) Prohibit public employees who make vending decisions from soliciting gifts from those companies who do business with agency.
5) Up the fine for those who fail to adequately disclose their finances from $10,000 to $100,000.
Cautiously optimistic, Fasano is quick to point out he hasn’t spoken with Weatherford or Gaetz. He said he always intended to file the bill, which debuts before similar bills backed by leadership that should drop in the next week. It’s similar to a companion SB 272 filed by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth.
“Any role I can play in helping get a good comprehensive elections and ethics bill that will take into consideration my bill would be appreciated,” Fasano said.