Earlier today Crowley Political Report told readers about a lawsuit challenging the use of blind trusts as part of required financial disclosure statements. Florida Governor Rick Scott has some of his personal holding in a blind trust. See details about the suit here.
The lawsuit has ticked off the Florida Republican Party which notes that the media, which is joining the suit, praised the passage of legislation toughing ethics and disclosure laws. That of course does not mean the media supported blind trusts.
Here is the GOP response.
ELECTION SEASON AMNESIA
Florida Press Sues On Ethics Law They Crafted And Endorsed One Year Ago
Orlando Sentinel: “Several news organizations, including the Associated Press, the Miami Herald, and the Florida Times-Union have signed on to support the challenge, said Barbara Petersen with the First Amendment Foundation, an open government group supported by the media.”
STATEMENT FROM RPOF COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR SUSAN HEPWORTH: “It is the height of hypocrisy for Florida media outlets, which claim to be unbiased, to join in a lawsuit against a law they endorsed one year ago. This lawsuit is a shameful partisan hatchet job."
SB 2 Passed The Legislature Unanimously, 117-0 In The House, 37-0 In The Senate. (CS/SB 2 – Ethics, Florida House Of Representatives, 4/24/13)
EDITORIALS FROM AROUND THE STATE PRAISED GOVERNOR SCOTT AND THE LEGISLATURE FOR THEIR LEADERSHIP ON ETHICS LEGISLATION
Miami Herald Editorial Board Says Rick Scott “Got It Right” In Signing Ethics Legislation. “Gov. Rick Scott pretty much got it right Thursday. The governor signed into law ethics legislation that should make it easier for the state to enforce penalties against public officials who cross the line. He also enacted a campaign-finance law that increases campaign contributions … Applaud the governor for moving ahead with ethics reforms. The law sharpens the dull teeth of the state’s Commission on Ethics that, until now, has existed pretty much in name only. Now the agency can investigate complaints referred by law-enforcement agencies and the governor.” (Editorial, “Gov. Scott Wields Veto Pen But Also Signs Ethics Law,” Miami Herald, 5/2/14)
Tampa Bay Times Tim Nickens Calls Ethics Legislation Part Of An “Ambitious Agenda.” “Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz sound determined to do real stuff when the legislative session begins in March: Reforming the broken campaign finance laws that allow for too much money and too little transparency. Tightening ethics rules that do so little to prevent corruption … for now, there is reason to be encouraged about the direction in Tallahassee.” (Tim Nickens, “Legislative leaders draw up ambitious agenda,” Tampa Bay Times, 2/2/13)
Tampa Tribune Editorial Board Praised Ethics Legislation Saying It “Deserved Support.” “The state’s legislative leaders are putting ethics reform front and center this legislative session by backing a number of proposals that will make lawmakers and government officials more accountable … Ethics goes to the heart of the public’s trust in government, and these efforts to reform and expand the law deserve support … These new rules are building on the momentum started last year. Taken as a whole, they will hold public officials to the ethical standards expected of them, and give the state needed enforcement tools.” (Editorial, “Ethics Reforms Deserve Support,” Tampa Tribune, 3/16/14)
Miami Herald’s Carl Hiaasen Calls The Ethics Reform Bill “Significant.” “An ethics bill was passed last week in Tallahassee … The ethics legislation is significant … the bill at least puts some strong words on paper, and opens a pathway for prosecutors.” (Carl Hiassen, “Legislature Approves Ethics Reform — No Joke,” Miami Herald, 4/27/14)
The Pensacola News-Journal Thanked Governor Scott For “His Role In Improving State Government.” “We thank him for his role in improving state government by trying to rid the Capitol of corruption … The legislation was closely watched by those who want to see all levels of government more transparent and public officials do the people's business rather than use an office for personal enrichment or monkey business … Getting ethics reform passed showed he understands the role of lawmakers.” (Editorial, “Sound Ethics Reform,” Pensacola News-Journal, 5/2/14)
GOOD GOVERNEMNT WATCHDOG GROUPS PRAISED THE ETHICS LEGISLATION AS “HISTORIC” AND “COMPREHENSIVE”
In 2013, Governor Scott Signed Sweeping Ethics Reform That Was Unanimously Passed By The Florida Legislature. “Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a package of reform bills Wednesday night, bringing final approval for the first major overhaul of the state’s ethics laws in more than three decades … The two bills give significant new powers to the state’s ethics commission, extend a ban on lobbying for lawmakers after they leave office and rework the state’s campaign finance limits.” (Nicholas Kusnetz, “Florida Enacts Ethics And Campaign Finance Package,” Center for Public Integrity, 5/2/13)
The Center For Public Integrity Says That The Ethics Bill “Reaches Far And Wide. “The ethics bill, which passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously, reaches far and wide … Proponents of the measure, including Krassner, have said that overall, the bill will improve campaign finance transparency … Despite the complaints, however, even the strongest critics of the reform package say the bill signed Wednesday will improve the laws on the books.” (Nicholas Kusnetz, “Florida Enacts Ethics And Campaign Finance Package,” Center for Public Integrity, 5/2/13)
Florida Watchdog Group Integrity Florida Praised The Ethics Reform Bill, Calling It “Comprehensive” And “Historic.” “Statement from Dan Krassner, executive director of the independent government watchdog group Integrity Florida on Governor Rick Scott signing historic ethics reform and campaign finance reform bills into law: ‘Governor Scott delivered on his commitment to ethics and integrity in government to strengthen the public trust,’ said Dan Krassner … Passing stronger ethics laws is a good way to improve Florida’s reputation and our state’s ability to attract jobs … It is encouraging that our state leaders have passed such comprehensive improvements to Florida’s ethics laws.” (Press Release, “Integrity Florida Statement On Gov. Scott Signing Historic Ethics Reform And Campaign Finance Reform Bills Into Law,” Integrity Florida, 5/2/13)
The League Of Women Voters Praised Governor Scott For Approving SB 2. “We were also pleased to see the Governor approve SB 2, relating to ethics. After 37 years of waiting, Florida’s citizens will finally see improved ethics standards, including increased transparency of financial disclosures and a stronger Ethics Commission. Florida ranks as one of the nation’s worst in terms of corruption by elected officials, and the Governor was right on point to approve this legislation.” (Press Release, “League Of Women Voters Of Florida Responds To Governor’s Actions On Alimony, Ethics And Campaign Finance Reform,” League of Women Voters, 5/3/13)
Sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida