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Florida New Financial Disclosure Form 6 Elected Officials Crying Foul

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Why would the more transparent financial disclosure form 6. That would increase public trust and have local elected officials crying foul and resigning from office.

Currently, local officials only file a Form 1 disclosing the sources of their income and business interests, but not specific dollar amounts. Ron DeSantis signed legislation in May 2023, and starting January 1, it requires Florida town and municipal elected officials to file a new financial disclosure Form 6.

The more transparent financial disclosure Form 6 requires local government elected officials to disclose more of their finances, showing their entire net worth, including income sources, assets, property and business ownership, and debts. The financial disclosure requirement Form 6 is identical to the one the governor, cabinet officials, and state lawmakers must follow.

Yet local officials call Form 6 an “extremely extensive” document. So far, Belleair Beach City Council member Mike Zabel has resigned, Belleair commissioners — Deputy Mayor Tom Kurey and Commissioner Thomas Nessler, Indian Rocks Beach City Commissioner Joe McCall, and Seminole Council member Olliver. All cite the state’s new financial disclosure rules for local government officials’ reason for leaving office. Many believe anyone in public life who’s squeamish about ethical transparency probably should not run for office.

Executive director of the Florida Commission on Ethics Kerrie Stillman. Stated Form 6 would raise ethical standards for Florida city officials and expose hidden conflicts of interest among elected officials.

Former Senate President Don Gaetz told senators at a March 30 hearing. “The dynamics of conflicts and corruption occur both in small towns and in large. It makes no difference”. Would you rather or not know that your county commissioner owns land that the county is considering buying? Or that your legislator sits on the board of a local bank, works at a local college or hospital, or is a director of a waste disposal company?

This change has been debated for a decade, but ethics reform comes slowly in Tallahassee. In the past, legislators have given in to resistance from city officials who view Form 6 as intrusive or bothersome.

Gov. DeSantis hasn’t signed an ethics order since January 28, 2021. His lack of action gives politicians and public employees mixed signals. Until he and others take action, it’s business as usual.

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