Claypool analyzed the Senate bill for Integrity Florida and said it would actually weaken current law — especially the provision regarding “unintentional” ethics violations.
“Someone is being protected here, and it isn’t the public,” Claypool wrote in his analysis.
The statewide grand jury urged much the opposite: making voting conflicts that involve a financial gain second-degree felonies, including for legislators.
The grand jury, under the direction of the Office of Statewide Prosecutor, convened in 2010 at the urging of former Gov. Charlie Crist after a series of highly publicized public corruption cases. It issued its report on Dec. 29, 2010, one week before Scott took office.
On Jan. 4, 2011, Scott’s Executive Order 11-03 directed his staff to “recommend a plan for implementing all or certain” of the grand jury’s recommendations.
It was a tall order for Scott, who was new to governing and still assembling an inner circle of advisers, nearly all of whom were strangers to state government. Dempsey, a prominent lawyer and lobbyist before and after working for Scott, was one of the few who could navigate the bureaucracy.
Recalling the grand jury report, Dempsey said: “We looked at it, and we reviewed it. There were a lot of issues in the report, and we didn’t feel we would be driving good public policy to rush to judgment on this.” He said Scott’s office never presented anything to the Legislature in the 2011 session.
On Thursday, Antonacci — Dempsey’s successor — said it would be bad public policy for the state to criminalize ethics violations as the grand jury proposed. At the same time, Scott has imposed strict ethical standards on his own employees, including banning acceptance of gifts from anyone other than relatives.
Antonacci also said Scott’s staff members are prohibited from drinking alcohol in public in any of the popular after-hours watering hotels near the Capitol. “If it’s any kind of gin mill activity, you’re out,” Antonacci said.