Florida's Governor and Cabinet may soon be introduced to 20th century ethics rules.
TALLAHASSEE · The Florida Commission on Ethics wants the governor and four other statewide elected officials to put their stock holdings in a blind trust before taking office, as a result of an investigation into Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher's purchase of shares in companies he regulated.I blogged last July about Tom Gallagher's ethics problems. It did seem odd there was no mention of blind trusts. I know these are required for federal officials and assumed that Florida law or ethics rules were the same.
"This would take away the presumption of a conflict of interest," said Norman Ostrau, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer and former legislator who heads the ethics commission. "The germination of this was the Gallagher issue."
Gallagher ran unsuccessfully for the Republican gubernatorial nomination this year. He faces a possible fine for buying stock in two firms regulated by his office while he was insurance commissioner in 2002. The ethics commission found probable cause in July that he violated state law in both cases.
Gallagher rejected a proposed settlement of the case, and a trial before state administrative law judge Barbara Staros is scheduled Jan. 19.
The proposal would apply to the governor, lieutenant governor and three elected Cabinet members: the chief financial officer, attorney general and agriculture commissioner. It specifies that no official may attempt to influence management of the assets, and the trustee must be a disinterested party who is not a relative, a public official or an appointee to a state agency.
Though no such requirement now exists, Gov. Jeb Bush has kept his investments in a blind trust throughout his eight-year tenure.
Bottom line- Blind trusts should be a mandatory requirement for the Florida Governor and cabinet. These public officials shouldn't be able to profit off knowledge that isn't available to the public.
Linked to- Bullwinkle, Bright & Early, Pirate's Cove,