Since its creation in January, the government watchdog group Integrity Florida has been releasing a series of reports on the state of Florida’s open government system. The organization says Florida’s Sunshine Laws, designed to make government dealings more transparent, is due for an overhaul.
Integrity Florida has posted more than 600 documents online, including the personal financial disclosure filings from 2011, 2010 and the first term in office for Florida’s legislators and top state officials.
Out of 200 state lawmakers, eleven reported they worked for lobbying firms during the last legislative session. Only 12 lawmakers recorded potential voting conflicts, and 22 state officials voluntarily listed $101,000 in gifts from non-lobbyists so far this year. None one of those things are illegal, but they do raise questions, especially for those who aren’t voluntarily disclosing information.
“Are your public officials serving their own pocketbooks or are they serving the public interest? That’s what these forms are designed to do. Corruption doesn’t like sunlight and disclosure is the key to accountability," said Integrity Florida's Dan Krassner.
Financial disclosures are done in a paper-based system, but Krassner says information needs to be put online to make it more accessible. The Integrity Florida report also calls on the state to require lawmakers to disclosure potential conflicts of interests ahead of votes.