Few Floridians are aware that many Tallahassee Legislators are legally employees of lobbying firms.
Attorneys in the legislature were formally prohibited by Ethics’ Rules (59-31 & 67-5) from being employees or partners of lobbying firms. These Rules stated it was an “inescapable conflict of interest.”
The Florida Bar, under pressure from lobbying firms, repealed said rules and recently refused to reinstate them. The Bar’s Ethics Committee overwhelming objected to the repeal and recommended reinstatement.
To cure this, unconscionable inescapable conflict, I have submitted to the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) an amendment as follows: “Elected officials shall not be members of lobbying firms that lobby their office or legislative body.”
The Florida Legislature is the only legislative body in the state exempted from the meeting sunshine laws. Most legislative, law making, debate, negotiations, lobbying, vote trading is legally done behind closed door.
Attorney/Legislators in lobbying firms owe ethical duties to the lobbying firms clients that creates the “inescapable conflict of interest” with the elected officials’ duty to the citizens of Florida.
Any Floridian who agrees can express their opinion to the CRC: The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399.
Thomas M. Gallen,
Senior Circuit Judge,
Former State Senator