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More than 1,200 public officials fail to file financial disclosure forms on time

The clock is ticking for more than 1,200 elected officials and government employees who have not yet filed their financial disclosure reports for 2011.

Though the deadline to file the reports was July 1, late-filers have until Tuesday to submit their paperwork before fines start accruing, according to Integrity Florida, a watchdog group.

“These 1,240 late filers (as of August 29) will begin facing fines of $25 per late day (up to a $1,500 cap) if they fail to send their required financial disclosure forms to the Florida Commission on Ethics with a postmark on or before September 4, 2012,” said Dan Krassner, director of Integrity Florida, in a statement.

The financial disclosure reports are a requirement for tens of thousands of officials, from state Representatives to school principals and local mayors. The reports allow members of the public to know the financial assets and liabilities of elected officials, and can highlight any potential conflicts of interest.

For example, a recent report by Integrity Florida found that at least 12 lawmakers  worked for firms that lobbied the state government.

Those who don’t meet Tuesday’s filing deadline would join a long list of people who have been fined for failing to file their disclosure forms on time.

More than 65 officials still owe a total of $87,199 in late fees going as far back as 2002.

On that list is Rep. Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican who owed the state $1,500 for a 2003 late-filing fine, according to records obtained by Integrity Florida.

“Integrity Florida hopes to help the Florida Commission on Ethics achieve its goal of a 100-percent collection rate for financial disclosure filings,” Krassner said. “Our intent is to reach the individuals who have yet to file financial disclosure reports before September 4 so they are able to do so before facing fines.”