TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida has earned an unwanted distinction when it comes to corruption in politics, according to a new report.
Florida led the nation in federal public corruption convictions between 2000 and 2010, according to government watchdog group Integrity Florida. The "Corruption Risk Report" shows Florida had 781 federal corruption convictions during that decade.
Dan Krassner of Integrity Florida says the time has come for ethics reform in Florida.
"Our goal is to bring more sunshine to the Sunshine State. We're number one for our beaches. We're number one for our sunshine, but it's time we dusted off our government in the sunshine law and once again become number one in the world for government in the sunshine, for open government, for accountable government and for ethical government."
One of the main recommendations is to allow the Florida Commission on Ethics to start its own corruption investigations. Currently, the commission must wait for someone to file a complaint before launching an investigation.
The report also recommends increasing the fine for the worst ethics violations to $25,000, up from the current maximum of $10,000.
"We believe $25,000 is an appropriate penalty. That hurts just about anybody if you violate an ethics law and receive a $25,000 penalty. So giving the Ethics Commission that tool, the ability to move up to that level, beyond where precedent has kept them at a much lower level for most fines that are usually around $1,000," said Krassner.
Integrity Florida believes Florida should start operating a corruption hotline and require top elected officials to disclose all of their personal financial transactions over $1,000.
The report shows California had the second highest number of federal corruption convictions during that period with 753. Texas followed with 741 and New York recorded 670.
First Coast News