State

February 14, 2014

Miami-Dade expressway official says he’ll pay ethics fines

More than three weeks after Miami attorney Robert W. Holland and the state agreed to a repayment plan, the Commission on Ethics is still waiting for a response.

The Miami-Dade official whose refusal to file financial disclosure forms has drawn the ire of legislative leaders says he’ll comply with financial disclosure requirements.

But more than three weeks after the official and the state agreed to a repayment plan, the Commission on Ethics is still waiting for a response.

Miami attorney Robert W. Holland, a member of the county expressway authority, issued a statement Friday after the Herald/Times reported that his case is prompting Senate President Don Gaetz to advance legislation that would allow for the removal from office of public officials who don’t comply with the law.

As reported, Holland has racked up fines totaling $9,000 for not filing his disclosure statements over a five-year period. He has been fined $1,500 for each year between 2007 and 2012, but has not paid any of the penalties and remains in office.

“I do take responsibility for not being able to file my disclosures during the requisite periods,” Holland told the Herald/Times in a statement sent through the authority. “Unfortunately, my longtime accountant moved to the Turks and Caicos Islands a few years ago and has all of my financial records. I have employed a new accountant to forensically produce information for my disclosures and other needed matters ... I will provide the requisite information.”

Holland did not respond to previous phone and email requests for comment.

In his statement Friday, Holland said he has reached a settlement agreement with the Commission on Ethics to repay the overdue fines on a monthly basis. The Herald/Times made a public records request for it, but a spokeswoman for the ethics commission, Kerrie Stillman, said in an email Friday: “We do not have a signed repayment agreement on file as of yet.”

Under terms of the proposed settlement, Holland must send the state $200 on the 10th day of every month until the fine is paid in full to avoid further action, including garnishment of his wages.

The commission’s letter to Holland is dated Jan. 21, 2014. The letter also directed Holland to file his financial disclosure statement for 2012. He has not done so, Stillman said Friday.

Florida voters in 1976 followed the lead of Gov. Reubin Askew and amended the state Constitution to include the so-called Sunshine Amendment that requires elected officials to file annual disclosure statements. As an attorney and member of the Florida Bar, Holland took an oath, part of which states: “I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Florida.”

Miami Herald reporter Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report.

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