Florida group uses State Integrity Investigation to push reform

Integrity Florida wants to give ethics commission power to initiate probes

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Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida

Open government advocates in Florida are using results from the State Integrity Investigation to push for grassroots ethics reform. The Sunshine State received a C- on its corruption risk scorecard, ranking it 18th among the states.

Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, said the project’s scorecards provide an easy roadmap for reform, with 330 specific policy questions and measurable outcomes.

“We looked at where our state scored the lowest,” said Krassner, who noted that Florida received its only F grade for ethics enforcement agencies.

Florida is one of about 30 states where the ethics commission is unable to self-start investigations; commissioners can only investigate citizens’ complaints. But Integrity Florida, a group that aims to promote accountability in government and expose corruption, is pushing for changes that would allow the commission to initiate its own probes.  

“That is a direct response to the State Integrity Investigation,” Krassner said. “Our organization is following up with state-level research to pass that policy reform next legislative session.”

Integrity Florida, which launched in late March, aims to inspire reform by engaging with ethics organizations and government officials, while also producing reports on potential corruption risks in the state.  A report to be released this week will highlight the lack of transparency at Florida’s economic development agency.

On Saturday, the group presented the Florida corruption risk scorecard to the local League of Women Voters chapter to highlight the state’s shortcomings. Krassner said Integrity Florida plans to replicate those meetings throughout the state.

In addition to the failing grade for ethics enforcement, Florida received D- grades for political financing, judicial accountability, and state civil service management, D’s for lobbying disclosure and pension fund management, and a D+ for public access to information. The state received two A grades — for internal auditing and redistricting.

The legislative session ended in March, but Integrity Florida plans to meet with elected officials and reform advocates throughout the summer to build a coalition of supporters.

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