Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Wednesday will propose "a complete rewrite of Florida's charity laws," aiming to increase state oversight and transparency in direct response to investigative reports published last year in the Tampa Bay Times.
Putnam, whose duties include protecting Florida's consumers, said the changes will help Floridians make more informed choices about the charities they patronize. The legislation will also grant the state additional powers to regulate nonprofits and the professional solicitors who raise money for charities.
"We are introducing a complete rewrite of Florida's charity laws so that Floridians will be protected from having their hard-earned money go to deceptive charities and Florida will not be a safe haven for bad actors from other states," Putnam said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with the Times/Herald.
State Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, will sponsor the bills and have been working with Putnam for months. The "America's Worst Charities" investigation by the Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting studied thousands of charities that paid for-profit companies to increase donations and highlighted the 50 worst that spent the most on outside fundraising.
Brandes said he was upset by what he read in the newspaper, especially since many of these organizations were based in Florida. He reached out to Putnam, who agreed to make charities reform one of his priorities for the 2014 session.