City Of Tallahassee Challenges Proposed Ethics Rules

Aug 19, 2014

Citizens for Ethics Reform gathered more than 20,000 signatures in support of the measure.
Credit Citizens for Ethics Reform

A proposed ethics reform initiative could be kept off the November ballot if Tallahassee City Attorney Lew Shelley prevails in court. Shelley says the measure is vague as to how much it would cost taxpayers. That’s because a provision would allow local political-campaign donors to claim refunds from the city—up to $25 per donor.

But Citizens for Ethics Reform Co-Chair Marilynn Wills says refunds are necessary to keep people from feeling disenfranchised.

“It was to give some people who don’t have a voice, a voice. Because now if you have a lot of money you can influence people because you can contribute a lot of money," she says. "There are a lot of people who want to have a voice but can’t afford to contribute a lot of money.”

In addition to creating the refund system, the ballot measure would cap campaign contributions to city candidates at $250.  And it would create an appointed ethics officer position that doesn't answer directly to the City Commission. 

The judge must rule and city commissioners must vote on the proposal before next Wednesday for it to appear on the ballot.