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Ausman calls on state dems to produce code of ethics

By James Call

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-972501.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Florida's Democratic National Committeeman Jon Ausman wants his party to create a code of ethics. The state party suspended Ausman last week for choosing sides in last year's primaries. However, James Call reports, Ausman said if he violated any rules they aren't written down anywhere.

Ausman is a former Leon County DEC chair and is a familiar sight on the campaign trail. His political activism dates to the 1968 Hubert Humphrey campaign. In 2010 he angered Leon Democrats by backing a challenger in a local race and Jeff Greene in the U.S. Senate race. Leon Democrats complained that a state party official is not allowed to take sides in a primary. Ausman said he violated no rules, or at least no rules that are written down.

"When you have a code of ethics or professional standards it always has to be in writing, it always has to be shared with the entire membership and the public and it has to have clear consequences and rewards for following the code or when you do not follow the code."

The state party suspended Ausman through next year's elections. Officials said he violated the party's charter and professional standards. State Party Chairman Rod Smith, when issuing the suspension, wrote he was dismayed that Ausman argued the party has no clear ethical rules. Tuesday, the party's spokesman all but ignored Ausman's challenge to produce a written code of conduct.

"Given Mr. Ausman's complete lack of credibility on this issue, responding to the former committeeman is a waste of time."

Eric Jotkoff said of course the party has ethical standards and that a six-member committee found Ausman's conduct to be of such an outrageous nature as to violate the professional standards of the Democratic Party.

"Mr. Ausman was ruled to have violated those ethical standards that is why he was suspended from the committee."

Ausman is known as an expert on party rules. He represented Florida during a 2008 dispute concerning its delegation to the national convention. When Leon Democrats petitioned the state party to discipline him over his campaign activities, he said he wrote to the party's executive director asking about a written code of ethics.

"When I wrote further to him in that original memo I originally sent him in January, are there any outside code of political ethics that the Florida Democratic Party has adopted or recommended, Scott Arsenaul wrote back, 'no, at least no discussion since I've been here nor was one mentioned to me.' That state director has served under two party chairs and you would think if anyone would know it would be the executive director of the party."

So, Ausman is offering to pay $250 to anyone who can produce the Florida Democratic Party's code of ethics. He has set a deadline of June 24th. Eric Jotkoff, an exasperated party spokesman, insists the party has ethics and that it is a waste to time to respond to Ausman's comments.