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State Ethics Commission Wants More Enforcement Power, Higher Fines

Public officials could lose their homes or other valuable property if they don’t pay their state ethics fines on time. That’s what the Florida State Commission on Ethics hopes will happen if next year’s legislature passes their proposed bill.

The state ethics commission has proposed a bill that would allow the state to put liens on public officials’ property if they don’t pay their fines on time. Last year, the group ended up writing off more than $900,000 in unpaid fines it had assessed over the past decade, when officials failed to turn in disclosure paperwork on time. Fla. State Rep. Charles McBurney, a Jacksonville Republican, has agreed to sponsor the bill.

“You could obtain a judgment, but you’ve got to be able to collect on that judgment for it to be enforceable," he said. "Otherwise, you can frame that judgment and hang it on your wall.”

In the past, fines were sent to private collection agencies.

The commission also wants legislation that would increase the maximum recommended penalty for violating ethics laws, from $10,000 per violation to $25,000 per violation.