Florida - Corruption Capital of America
"Florida has become the corruption capital of America," said Dan Krassner, the executive director of a watchdog group, Integrity Florida, citing statistics going back to 1976 and the "significant number of public officials arrested this year and last."
The Auditor General is the external independent auditor for the State of Florida and her duties and responsibilities are set forth in Section 11.45, Florida Statutes. See also additional information on the responsibilities of the Auditor General.
- Auditor General Released Reports
- State Courts System and Judicial-Related Entities
Report No. 2015-061: Justice Administrative Commission; Offices of the State Attorneys, Third, Fifth, and Sixth Judicial Circuits; Offices of the Public Defenders, Third and Sixteenth Judicial Circuits; and Offices of the Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel - Operational. Summary 2p Full Report 39p
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The Office of the Chief Inspector General was created in Section 14.32, Florida Statutes, effective October 1, 1994. This office has the responsibility for promoting accountability, integrity, and efficiency in state government. The Chief Inspector General has responsibility for monitoring the activities of the Offices of Inspectors General in the state agencies that are under the jurisdiction of the Governor. The Chief Inspector General also serves in accordance with 20.055, Florida Statutes, as the agency Inspector General for the Office of the Governor. The Chief Inspector General reports directly to the Governor both administratively and functionally.
Within the Office of Chief Inspector General, there are two distinct functions: audits and investigations.
The audit function is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve the Office of the Governor’s operations or operations funded by the Office of the Governor. In carrying out the audit responsibilities, the Chief Inspector General reviews and evaluates internal controls to ensure fiscal accountability of the agency. Audits are conducted in accordance with professional auditing standards.
In carrying out the investigative duties, the Chief Inspector General initiates, conducts, supervises, and coordinates investigations designed to detect, deter, prevent, and eradicate fraud, waste, mismanagement, misconduct, and other abuses in government.
Response+Chief Inspector General Case 20[...]
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Letter and Declaration of Neil Gillespie[...]
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One of America’s weirdest congressional districts has just been trashed by the Florida Supreme Court
The Washington Post
By Michael E. Miller
and Nick Kirkpatrick
July 10, 2015
Destroyed records. Shadowy projects with names like "Sputnik" and "Frankenstein." And a college student whose identity was stolen to provide cover for political operatives.
Welcome to Florida, where the tentacles of gerrymandering are as tightly coiled around the statehouse as an invasive Burmese python.
Take Florida’s infamous 5th Congressional District, for example. It runs from near Jacksonville in the north, hooks east for a few miles, then west for a few miles, narrows to the width of an interstate highway for a while, cuts west all the way over to Gainesville, then swivels back east and southeast, finally arriving at Orlando, a distance of about 140 miles, sweeping in black neighborhoods along the way in order to create a "minority-majority" district.
It’s been described by a federal judge as "visually not compact," "bizarrely shaped" and defying "traditional political boundaries" with what critics called "finger like extensions," "narrow and bizarrely shaped tentacles" and "hook-like shapes." It resembles no known species or geometric form. It does look an awful lot like the Potomac River from the air, however.
The 5th was recently ranked by The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham as one of "America’s most gerrymandered" congressional districts.
After a five-year battle over the Sunshine State’s shadowy election system, however, all this could finally be changing.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state legislature must redraw at least eight congressional districts, including the 5th, that had been gerrymandered to favor the GOP.
Writing for the majority, Justice Barbara Pariente said the court affirmed "the trial court’s factual findings and ultimate determination that the redistricting process and resulting map were ‘taint(ed)’ by unconstitutional intent to favor the Republican Party and incumbents."
But Pariente’s decision went much further than the trial court’s, slamming political consultants and politicians for their secrecy — including deleted e-mails — and essentially arguing that the state legislature could no longer be trusted to draw its own districts.
The Supreme Court gave Florida legislators 100 days to hold a special session to draw a new congressional map, and instructed a lower court to implement a review of the resulting districts. more
Arrests of 3 Mayors Reinforce Florida’s Notoriety as a Hothouse for Corruption
The New York Times
By NICK MADIGAN
September 1, 2013
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Even by Florida standards, the arrests of three suburban Miami mayors on corruption charges within a month were a source of dismay, if not exactly a surprise.
On Wednesday, Steven C. Bateman, 58, the mayor of Homestead, was arrested. He is accused of accepting under-the-table payments from a health care company that sought to build a clinic in town, the state attorney’s office for Miami-Dade County said. Mr. Bateman was turned in by City Council members and staff, said employees interviewed Friday at City Hall.
On Aug. 6, Manuel L. Maroño, 41, the mayor of Sweetwater and president of the Florida League of Cities, and Michael A. Pizzi, 51, the Miami Lakes mayor, were picked up along with two lobbyists. The United States attorney’s office has accused them of involvement in kickback and bribery schemes concerning federal grants.
Prosecutors said Mr. Maroño had received more than $40,000 in bribes and Mr. Pizzi $6,750. The defendants, who were targets of an F.B.I. sting operation, are charged with "conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right" and could face 20 years in prison if convicted.
Gov. Rick Scott suspended all three mayors while the criminal cases proceed.
"We bought the trifecta," said Carla Miller, the ethics officer for Jacksonville and a former federal prosecutor. "It’s bad when three mayors get led out in handcuffs. What’s left of the public trust gets ground into little pieces."
Not that such situations are unusual in Florida, which led the country in convictions of public officials — 781 — between 2000 and 2010, according to Department of Justice figures.
"Florida has become the corruption capital of America," said Dan Krassner, the executive director of a watchdog group, Integrity Florida, citing statistics going back to 1976 and the "significant number of public officials arrested this year and last."
Florida, and especially Miami and its environs, has long had a reputation as a place where the odd and the eccentric mix with the furtive and the felonious. Last century, organized crime figures from Chicago and New York set up lucrative gambling, extortion and loan-sharking endeavors in Miami Beach and elsewhere, and beginning in the 1980s, South Florida’s economy, culture and reputation were transformed by drug trafficking.
With so much money sloshing about, it was perhaps inevitable that a parade of officials would enrich themselves illicitly at the public trough.
One was Alex Daoud, who in 1985 became the mayor of Miami Beach and six years later was indicted on 41 counts of bribery. He served 18 months in prison, and has since written a memoir.
Last year in Miami Beach, City Manager Jorge Gonzalez, who was making $273,000 a year and had been mired in a web of investigations, was forced to step down after seven of his employees were arrested in a federal corruption investigation. His six-figure pension remained intact.
The arrests of the three Miami-Dade mayors followed news in July that the Securities and Exchange Commission had charged the City of Miami and one of its former budget directors with securities fraud, only a few years after the commission reprimanded the city for similar behavior. In May, a former mayor of Hialeah, Julio Robaina, and his wife, Raiza, were charged with failing to report income from high-interest loans totaling more than $1 million that they had made under an informal system involving friends and associates. The Robainas said they were innocent.
In 2011, in the largest municipal recall election in the country, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Alvarez, was removed from office after he gave large pay raises to close aides and then pushed for a
significant increase in property taxes.
This year, the State Legislature approved two ethics bills and six that focus on government transparency and accountability — the first time in 36 years that state lawmakers had passed ethics legislation. Mr. Krassner and others think legislators could do more. But many people seem resigned to the prevalence of officials who appear oblivious to ethical boundaries.
"They get drunk on power," said Katy Sorenson, who served on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners for 16 years and runs the Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami, which educates elected officials about ethics and related issues.
"There’s a certain psychology to some of the people who run for office here — they don’t think they’re going down the wrong track, but there’s a slippery slope," she added. "There’s a lack of self-awareness, an immaturity, a brazenness, of feeling like a big shot. So when they’re arrested, they’re very surprised."
The persistence of political malfeasance — often involving the stereotypical envelopes stuffed with cash, delivered with knowing nods — perplexes those for whom public service is a noble calling.
"Maybe it’s the heat," said Ruth Campbell, 93, a former City Council member here and the curator of the Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum.
Mrs. Campbell, who has lived in town since 1942, was sadly aware of Florida’s reputation as a haven for corruption. "We like to be distinguished," she said, "but not like that."
Prosecutors said Mr. Bateman, among other things, had failed to disclose that the health care company, Community Health of South Florida Inc., secretly agreed to pay him $120,000 over a year to lobby on its behalf. By the time he was arrested, he had accepted $3,625, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
After the mayor’s arrest, a City Council member, Judy Waldman, told reporters, "I have zero tolerance for people using their public office to make money." Ms. Waldman, who referred to Mr. Bateman only as "that individual," said his activities on behalf of Community Health Care of South Florida were "just the tip of the iceberg," and encouraged prosecutors to dig deeper.
Mr. Bateman’s lawyer, Ben Kuehne, told The Associated Press that his client was "shocked" by his arrest and had "served the community for many years in an honest, dependable manner."
At City Hall on Friday, in a frame that contained photos of city officials, Mr. Bateman’s likeness had been concealed behind a paper copy of the city’s crest. But a day earlier, a group of his supporters rallied a couple blocks away, and Mr. Bateman, out on bond, showed up, shook hands and vowed to fight the charges. Read more
Tampa Bay Times
By Steve Bousquet,
Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau
March 7, 2013
TALLAHASSEE -- Long before the Legislature saw the need for new ethics laws, Gov. Rick Scott made a bold commitment to fight public corruption.
But he hasn’t followed through.
On his first day in office in 2011, Scott issued an executive order that preserved an Office of Open Government and added a new code of conduct for everyone working for him that in some areas was stricter than state law.
The order also directed Scott’s then-special counsel, Hayden Dempsey, to study a fresh statewide grand jury report on public corruption and push parts of it through the Legislature. But nothing came of it, even though Scott demanded in his campaign in 2010 that he be held accountable for his promises.
"This was a promise of the governor," said Dan Krassner of Integrity Florida. "Florida needs Gov. Scott’s leadership on ethics reform."
Two years later, the grand jury’s recommendations on what it called "an enormous issue, which is broad in scope and long in history" are still not law, though parts are in an ethics bill that passed the Senate Tuesday.
That Senate bill leaves out many of the grand jury’s strongest recommendations. They include making it a felony if an officeholder’s unethical conduct is motivated by money; raising the maximum fine for an ethics violation from $10,000 to $100,000; allowing the Commission on Ethics to open investigations without complaints being filed, the same as 30 other states; and clamping down on bid-rigging. The grand jury said public corruption cases are too hard to prove under existing laws and that when they are proven, the penalties are too soft.
Following recent Times/Herald inquiries, Scott directed his general counsel, Peter Antonacci, to look back at why nothing happened.
"I’ve asked Pete to look at that," Scott said. "Anytime you see corruption around the state, you ought to look at it and say, ‘What can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?’ Read more
Florida: ''We're No. 1!'' for political corruption
10 News Tampa Bay
June 4, 2012
TAMPA BAY, Florida - It may seem like a different Florida political figure finds him- or herself embroiled in scandal every week.
But in reality, it's every five days.
On Wednesday, the non-partisan watchdog group Integrity Florida will release a report identifying the Sunshine State as number one in the nation for political corruption.
From 2000 to 2010, there have been 781 federal convictions on corruption charges in Florida. That's an average of one every five days for 10 straight years.
"The corrupting influence of money in politics is the defining issue of our time," said Dan Krassner of Integrity Florida.
Integrity Florida's report will include lapses in the laws that allow:
- Elected - and nominated - officials to work for lobbying firms.
- Legislators to keep conflicts of interest secret until 15 days after a conflicted vote.
- Elected officials to blow off fines from the state with little-to-no penalty.
Furthermore, Krassner says the biggest problem is that the Florida Commission on Ethics can't launch an investigation of its own without first
receiving a formal complaint.
"Florida's state ethics enforcement officers can't even start an investigation on their own," Krassner said. "Imagine any other law enforcement officer in Florida seeing a crime in progress and not being able to pursue the suspect. That's the state of ethics law enforcement in Florida today." Read more
Florida So Corrupt FBI Taking Out Newspaper Ads Seeking Tips
Wonkette blog - June 6, 2011
America’s favorite swamp-gas-filled purgatory, the state of Florida, is now so corrupt that the FBI is taking out ads calling on citizens to report all of their dishonest politicians. Florida is the number one state in corruption, with over 800 politicians arrested between 1997 and 2007. Read more
....................FBI Jacksonville, Florida Division.....................
6061 Gate Parkway
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Phone (904) 248-7000
Fax: (904) 248-7404
Alachua Deputy Sentenced. A former deputy sheriff with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office accepted more than $15,000 from another in exchange for using his influence as a deputy sheriff. Read more
Florida 19th Statewide Grand Jury on Public Corruption
On November 30, 2009, Governor Charlie Crist filed a petition requesting that a Statewide Grand Jury be convened in order to "examine and evaluate public policy issues regarding public corruption and develop specific recommendations regarding improving current laws." On December 2, 2009, the Florida Supreme Court issued an Order to convene the Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury for the purpose of investigating crimes, returning indictments, and making presentments.
Attorney General Bill McCollum issued a statement on the statewide grand jury on public corruption:
"Floridians should be able to be proud of the public officials who serve their state and their communities, not ashamed of the latest scandal by someone in elected office. We absolutely should expect better of those we have chosen to lead us.
"The grand jury will need to examine the blatant theft of public resources and, perhaps most importantly, the illicit sources of influence upon public officials and how to lift the cloud of scandal that has been present for far too long.
"Led by my Office of Statewide Prosecution and working cooperatively with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, as well as local law enforcement and Florida’s state attorneys, the grand jury will work toward restoring the public’s trust in its government. I anticipate excellent work from these men and women who will undertake this responsibility, and I know Florida will benefit greatly from their efforts."
The Statewide Grand Jury was convened by the Florida Supreme Court in early December to examine a list of specific crimes including bribery, extortion, unlawful compensation for official behavior, corruption by threat against a public servant, official misconduct, falsifying records, and misuse of confidential information. The grand jury will be comprised of jurors summoned from the 11th, 15th, 17th and 20th judicial circuits. The presiding judge will be the Honorable Victor Tobin, Chief Judge in and for the 17th Judicial Circuit.
Response to Gillespie's Request for Investigation by the Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury of criminal wrongdoing in case no. 05-CA-7205 Hillsborough Co. Florida.
Supreme Court Order SC09-1910 - Order Directing Impanelment of a Statewide Grand Jury
Supreme Court Order SC09-1910 - AG Press Releases
Supreme Court Order SC09-1910 - 19th Statewide Grand Jury
Attorney General Grand Jury Press Release October 14, 2009
Attorney General Grand Jury Press Release December 2, 2009
Attorney General Grand Jury Press Release February 1, 2010
Statewide grand jury wants corruption
By Patricia Mazzei
February 2, 2010
Selection will begin next week for a statewide grand jury created to look into public corruption and recommend changes to Florida law — and state prosecutors are asking the public for tips on what to investigate. Gov. Charlie Crist called for the grand jury after a spate of high-profile arrests of public officials and major campaign contributors in South Florida. On Monday, Attorney General Bill McCollum urged the public to report instances of wrongdoing by public officials, from bribery to nepotism to fraud, to his office and its investigative arm, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "We'd really like to know if you're a whistle-blower or willing to be a whistle-blower," McCollum said. Read more
The Grand Jury - Reporter’s
Handbook, The Florida Bar
By Gregg D. Thomas and Carol Jean LoCicero
Both the Florida and federal judicial systems employ grand juries. Because those systems are similar, the Florida grand jury system will be discussed first. At the
conclusion of this chapter, the Florida statewide grand jury and the differences present in the federal grand jury system will be noted.
Traditionally, grand juries served as a shield between unjust prosecution by the state and the individual. Grand juries serve dual functions. The grand jury's primary role is to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to justify indicting an accused individual.
1 To make such determinations, a grand jury also serves as an investigating body with subpoena powers.
2 In Florida, a grand jury indictment is required only to try a person for a capital offense; i.e., one where the death penalty may be given.
3 Otherwise, the state attorney has concurrent authority to file a formal accusation of the commission of a crime (an "information").
4 The information is used routinely to charge individuals in Florida.
In addition to capital cases, grand juries often are utilized for controversial cases such as those involving alleged wrongdoing by public officials. Read more
Grand jury Wikipedia
A grand jury is a legal body that is empowered to conduct official proceedings to investigate potential criminal conduct and to determine whether criminal charges should be brought. A grand jury may compel the production of documents and may compel the sworn testimony of witnesses to appear before it. A grand jury is separate from the courts, which do not preside over its functioning.
Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing. Grand juries perform both accusatory and investigatory functions. The investigatory functions of the grand jury include obtaining and reviewing documents and other evidence and hearing the sworn testimony of witnesses that appear before it. The grand jury's accusatory function is to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe that one or more persons committed a certain offense within the venue of the district court. The "grand jury" in the United States is composed of 16 to 23 citizens. In Ireland, they also functioned as local government authorities.
A grand jury is so named because traditionally it has a greater number of jurors than a trial jury (also known as a petit jury or, in English usage the spelling can be petty jury, from the French for small). Read more
Grand juries in the United States Wikipedia
The United States is the only common law jurisdiction in the world that continues to use the grand jury to screen criminal indictments. Generally speaking, a grand jury may issue an indictment for a crime, also known as a "true bill," only if it finds based upon the evidence that has been presented to it that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed by a criminal suspect. A Grand Jury may also oversee trials which include the crimes of murder and violation of the RICO Statutes. Unlike a petit jury, which resolves a particular civil or criminal cases, a grand jury (typically having twenty-three or more members) serves as a group for a sustained period of time in all or many of the cases that come up in the jurisdiction, generally under the supervision of a federal U.S. attorney, a county district attorney, or a state attorney-general and hears evidence ex parte (i.e. without suspect or person of interest involvement in the proceedings).
While all states in the U.S. currently have provisions for grand juries, only half of the states actually employ them and twenty-two require their use, to varying extents. The modern trend is to use an adversarial preliminary hearing before a trial court judge, rather than grand jury, in the screening role of determining whether there is evidence establishing probable cause that a defendant committed a serious felony before that defendant is required to go to trial and risk a conviction on those charges.
California, Florida, and some other states, also use so called civil grand juries, investigating grand juries, or the equivalent, to oversee and investigate the conduct of government institutions, in addition to dealing with criminal indictments. For example, in Tennessee, according to the office of the Davidson County District Attorney: "It is also the duty of the Grand Jury to inquire into the condition and management of prisons and other buildings and institutions of the county, inquire into the condition of the country treasury, into any abuse of office by state or local officers, and to report the results of its actions to the court." Read more
First Interim Report - Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury
State of Florida
Case No. SC 09-1910
Statewide Grand Jury, First Interim Report, filed December 29, 2010
A Study of Public Corruption in Florida and Recommended Solutions
First Interim Report, filed December 29, 2010
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Florida Supreme Court - 19th Statewide Grand Jury
..................Florida Most Corrupt State in America...............
Florida is the Most Corrupt State in America
Page 119, First Interim Report, Florida Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury. Florida led the nation in the number of federally convicted public officials from 1998 through 2007. According to this testimony, Florida leads the next closest state, New York, over an 8% margin.
Page 124, First Interim Report, Florida Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury. Florida ranked first with 824 convicted public officials and New York ranked second with 704. We point out that according to this testimony, Nebraska ranked last in this survey.
Attorney General Pam Bondi Press Release
February 21, 2011
The Office of Statewide Prosecution released the final report of the 19th Statewide Grand Jury on Public Corruption. The report outlines their examination of the Broward County School Board and their resulting recommendations.
The Grand Jury was charged with investigating public corruption in Florida. The Grand Jury’s term expires in February 2011. It was presided over by Broward County Chief Judge Victor Tobin and supported by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Read more
Gov. Rick Scott’s Executive Order Number 11-03 following the First Interim Report December 29, 2010 of the Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury filed with the Florida Supreme Court regarding public corruption in Florida, recommending proposed solutions to address public corruption in all aspects of government, politics and business throughout Florida.
- First Interim Report 19th Statewide Grand Jury
- Final Report 19th Statewide Grand Jury
- Attachments to the Final Report on Public Corruption
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.............Florida Public Corruption on Facebook..............
FBI Seeks Public Aid in Outing
Government Corruption in Florida
In what respect does Florida rank #1 in the nation?
Corrupt public officials. The NYTimes reported that Florida's convicted public officials numbred 824 over the last 10 years... more than any other state. New York is #2 with 704 convictions, and Texas third with 565 convictions. No wonder the FBI is asking the question "Who's representing you? Dishonest government officials aren't just wasting your tax dollars... they are betraying your trust. REPORT PUBLIC CORRUPTION TO THE FBI." And the FBI is giving you a way to report public corruption.
- The Tallahassee Democrat reports that Tallahassee, the seat of political power in Florida, has become a focal point in the FBI's crackdown on public fraud and corruption. The FBI is seeking the public's help in identifying government officials who use their offices for personal gain... especially in the area of potential fraud involving federal stimulus money.
If it looks like it, it might very well be! Report public corruption or suspected potential corruption.
- You can report suspected public corruption activities by calling the FBI Jacksonville Public Corruption hotline at 1-888-722-1225.
- You can also Email Jacksonville@ic.fbi.gov with "Public Corruption Tip" in the subject line.
- More information is at the FBI website
Read more on Facebook
..........Ethics reform ignored by Florida lawmakers...........
by Zac Anderson
May 29, 2011
For all the major reforms Florida lawmakers took on this year, they failed to enact stronger ethics standards for public officials despite a rash of corruption cases from South Florida to Sarasota.
The inaction is even more glaring in the wake of an unusual statewide grand jury last December that issued 127 pages of recommended changes in state law after declaring that "corruption is pervasive at all levels of government" in Florida.
Florida entered this spring's legislative session reeling from years of major scandal at the state and local level. More than 800 public officials were convicted in Florida on various charges between 1997 and 2007, making Florida the top state for government corruption, according to the grand jury. Read more
Corrupt Florida Politicians
Blog by Bett
January 22, 2010
Former Deerfield Beach Commissioner Steve Gonot was convicted of stealing campaign funds, falsifying his campaign treasurer's report and official misconduct. The three-woman, three-man jury took just under an hour before returning the guilty verdicts, following a one-week trial. Read more here
Integrity Florida is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute and government watchdog
Integrity Florida is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute and government watchdog whose mission
is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption. Our vision is government in Florida that is the most open, ethical, responsive and accountable in the world.
Did you know that Florida led the U.S. in federal public corruption convictions from 2000-2010? Florida also received a failing grade for state ethics enforcement agencies on a Corruption Risk Report Card by State Integrity Investigation.
Integrity Florida is publishing research reports that are getting results.
A research report by Integrity Florida in June 2012 provided a roadmap for ethics reform that was largely adopted by the Florida Commission on Ethics as their 2013 ethics reform legislative agenda. Legislators passed ethics reform bills based on Integrity Florida research recommendations in the 2013 legislative session.
Florida lawmakers passed stronger financial disclosure laws following a research report published by Integrity Florida in July 2012 titled Corruption Risk Report: Financial Disclosure.
In January 2013, Integrity Florida provided the report Florida’s Broken Campaign Finance System to the Florida House of Representatives Ethics & Elections Subcommittee. Campaign finance reform legislation was passed in 2013 incorporating a number of Integrity Florida recommendations.
Integrity Florida, in partnership with Americans for Prosperity – Florida, released a research report titled Enterprise Florida: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare in February 2013. This report was a follow up to our April 2012 publication Corruption Risk Report: Enterprise Florida, which exposed a secretive, self-dealing arm of state government operating without sufficient transparency and accountability for results. The Florida Legislature passed new transparency and accountability measures for Enterprise Florida in the 2013 session. Read more
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.........FBI Looks For Whistleblowers In Tallahassee.........
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
June 14, 2011
What would you think if you sit down to read your morning paper -- and the first thing you see is an ADVERTISING from the FBI -- printed in big letters: "Dishonest government officials aren't just wasting your tax dollars. They're betraying your trust. Report public corruption to the FBI."
That just happened to the readers of the TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT -- the local newspaper of the hotspot of Florida corruption -- TALLAHASSEE.
Together with the ad on the front page came an article inside the paper, headlined: "FBI seeking tips from the public in crackdown on government corruption."
Personally, I feel it's about time somebody cleans out this cesspool -- known as Florida's capital. In my opinion Tallahassee is not only the actual capital of the State of Florida, it's as well the capital of political corruption -- a pay-to-play system that has more or less destroyed Florida's economy. What we are seeing now are the shambles of our once great State, formerly known as The Sunshine State. And instead of seeing the failure of their ways, our legislators continue to sell Florida to the highest bidder. What we see in Tallahassee shouldn't be called POLITICS -- it should be called "DRIVEN BY GREED!" Read more
to Stop Corruption
Is Florida Grand Jury on Public Corruption Corrupt Itself - 19th Grand Jury Fails to Clean Up FL
The 19th Statewide Grand Jury on Public Corruption fails to clean up Florida to the dismay of citizens. Pompano Beach CRA Gate and illegal takings of vast amounts of private property for private profit continue.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) - Mar. 25, 2011 - Florida’s Broward County has been coined Corruption County around the world for its notorious pay for play political scandals, particularly in the arena of land development. Florida’s last Governor, Charlie Crist petitioned the Florida Supreme Court for a Grand Jury Investigation after several Broward County Commissioners, Broward County School Board Members, and Pompano Beach CRA advisors were found to be involved in bribery and fraud as related to land grabbing and development deals on grand scales. The Pompano Beach CRA was found to have been taking property illegally from citizens, churches, and businesses for over a decade. With this, the 19th Statewide Grand Jury on Public Corruption was born to complete a year of investigation that recently ended in February 2011.
At its start many questioned a Grand Jury that was to focus a keen eye on Broward County being headed up by one of Broward County’s own, Broward County Chief Judge Victor Tobin. According to a press release from Bill McCollum's office, the State Attorney General at the time, the purpose of the Grand Jury was "to examine a list of specific crimes including bribery, extortion, unlawful compensation for official behavior, corruption by threat against a public servant, official misconduct, falsifying records, and misuse of confidential information." With an interim report published in December making general recommendations to the legislature, and a final report just released with recommendations exclusively regarding the Broward County School Board, popular sentiment is the Grand Jury has failed to meet its mission and be the clean up that the county requires and for which residents hoped.
An example of the impotency was the presentation of the final report to the Broward County School Board, whereby the board dismissingly said they would take it into advisement. A limp conclusion to what in retrospect seems to be yet another bureaucratic form of pass the buck and responsibility avoidance. No indictments have been made based on this year long investigation; the Jury only recommended the general idea that officials who misuse their office should be prosecuted. Florida's new Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi also failed to issue a statement on the Grand Jury's work.
As for the hundreds of Pompano Beach residents who had their property stolen by a rogue Pompano Beach CRA agency for development schemes? It seems the board did not want to address that which could alter the very landscape of Broward County and challenge the power structure, along with the race divisions. As for the legal and judicial corruption in Broward County with more than a dozen judges and attorneys (remember ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein) making unsavory headlines in recent years? No surprise an investigation was not performed of the Broward County Courthouse with its own Judge Tobin at the helm. As for Florida's new Governor, Rick Scott, who was previously forced to resign as the head of healthcare company Columbia/HCA that pled guilty to massive amounts of systematic Medicare fraud, including 14 felonies, leading to a historic $1.7 billion fine and now heads the state as a prime example of the corporate interest that has long infiltrated Florida’s politics? Looks like he will not be pressing for the term of the Grand Jury to be renewed. Read more
For more visit the Pompano Beach CRA Gate
Florida Is Officially America's Most Corrupt State
New Times Miami
By Tim Elfrink
June 7, 2012
Which is the single most corrupt state in our glorious union? Is it Illinois with its Rod Blagojevich bribery bonanza? Louisiana with its freezer-stuffing yet always reelected congressmen? California with its small-town, $700,000-salaried officials?
None of the above, according to a new study out this morning. Florida tops them all -- by a wide margin actually -- based on a rock-solid statistic: the number of state officials actually convicted on federal public corruption charges since 2000.
"Florida faces a corruption crisis that threatens the state's reputation, its economy and its ability to attract new jobs and capital," write the report's authors, Ben Wilcox and Dan Krassner.
Wilcox and Krassner compiled the new report for Integrity Florida, a non-partizan group dedicated to reducing graft in the Sunshine State.
The pair start by admitting that several other states have also laid claim to the coveted title of Most Corrupt in the U.S. -- most recently Illinois, where a University of Chicago study declared that the state is "leading the pack in corruption."
But that report looked at federal data going all the way back to 1976, when the Windy City was still basically a haven of Al Capone-esque bribery minded mobsters.
Wilcox and Krassner decided to look at more recent federal data. Sure enough, winnowing down federal corruption convictions to the past decade -- from 2000 to 2010, the most recent year the numbers have been released for -- reveals that Florida is the nation's graft capital.
On a year-by-year basis, Florida topped the country in that category five times since 2000, with just Texas and California coming close with three top years each.
On an average year, an astounding 71 Florida officials are convicted of corruption charges.
Of course Integrity Florida doesn't just want to point and laugh at Florida's bribery craze; the group offers five recommendations to fix the problems, including creating a statewide corruption tip line, giving the Florida Ethics Commission more power to launch its own inquiries and requiring top officials to report all major transactions from the previous year. Read more
Read the full report yourself here
Illinois Is Trying. It Really Is. But the Most Corrupt State Is Actually
The New York Times
By BILL MARSH
December 13, 2008
Where is officialdom most crooked? Last week, many guessed it must be Illinois, after news that Gov. Rod Blagojevich was taped making brazen personal demands in exchange for his selection of a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama.
The state's image took a hit despite its long history of producing famously principled political figures, from the bowtied Senator Paul Simon to the great man on the penny.
But bloggers from competing hotbeds of wrongdoing proclaimed that theirs were the worst officials in the land, thank you. New Jerseyans seemed especially sure that their leadership came out on top in the race to the bottom.
Not so. And not so for Illinois, either.
There are several ways to gauge levels of government corruption, all of them a bit, well, corrupt. We present three methods here in the interest of keeping the arguments going.
Number of Guilty Officials (Graphic)
In a Department of Justice tally covering the last decade, Florida wins by its sheer number of guilty. The report, released last week, itemizes convictions in federal public corruption cases at local, state and federal levels in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and three United States territories. Read more
Remember Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000)?
Bush v. Gore
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000), is the landmark United States Supreme Court decision on
December 12, 2000, that effectively resolved the 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush. Only eight days earlier, the United States Supreme Court had unanimously decided the closely
related case of Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, 531 U.S. 70 (2000), and only three days earlier, had preliminarily halted the recount that was occurring in Florida.
In a per curiam decision, the Court ruled that the Florida Supreme Court's method for recounting ballots was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court also ruled that no alternative method could be established within the time limits set by the State of Florida. Three concurring justices also asserted that the Florida Supreme Court had violated Article II, § 1, cl. 2 of the Constitution, by misinterpreting Florida election law that had been enacted by the Florida Legislature.
The decision allowed Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris's previous certification of George W. Bush as the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes to stand. Florida's votes gave Bush, the Republican candidate, 271 electoral votes, one more than the required 270 electoral votes to win the Electoral College and defeat Democratic candidate Al Gore, who ended up with 266 electoral votes. (One elector from the District of Columbia abstained). Read more here
Gainesville polka queen gets role in HBO film
The Gainesville Sun
By CHRISTOPHER MYERS
Special to The Sun
October 19, 2007
In November 2000, thousands of people from both ends of the political spectrum swarmed to Tallahassee to protest the results of the presidential election. Most of them didn't show up in a red dress with blue and white lace, a red, white and blue wig and tiara, and playing an accordion while singing polka music, however. The one who did was Gainesville's Angela Woodhull, also known as Angelina Polka Queena. Now, she's set to appear as herself in the upcoming HBO movie "Recount," about the 2000 election and the controversy that followed in Florida. Read more
United Nations Convention Against Corruption (CAC)
UNODC's Action against Corruption and Economic
Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. Signed by the United States December 9, 2003, and confirmed by the United States October 30, 2006.
Wikipedia reports "In its 71 Articles divided into 8 Chapters, UNCAC requires that States Parties implement several anti-corruption measures which may affect their laws, institutions and practices."
UNCAC's Forward: "Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. This evil phenomenon is found in all countries..." (English PDF).
The U.N. Global Compact site anti-corruption resources.
In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement. Government, or 'political', corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for his or her own personal gain. This article deals with the commonplace use of the term corruption to mean dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power. Read more
Political corruption is the use of power by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by private persons or corporations not directly involved with the government. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties, is done under color of law or involves trading in influence.
Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement. Corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking, though is not restricted to these activities.
The activities that constitute illegal corruption differ depending on the country or jurisdiction. For instance, some political funding practices that are legal in one place may be illegal in another. In some cases, government officials have broad or ill-defined powers, which make it difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal actions. Worldwide, bribery alone is estimated to involve over 1 trillion US dollars annually. A state of unrestrained political corruption is known as a kleptocracy, literally meaning "rule by thieves".
Some forms of corruption – now called "institutional corruption" – are distinguished from bribery and other kinds of obvious personal gain. Campaign contributions are the prime example. Even when they are legal, and do not constitute a quid pro quo, they have a tendency to bias the process in favor of special interests and undermine public confidence in the political institution. They corrupt the institution without individual members being corrupt themselves. A similar problem of corruption arises in any institution that depends on financial support from people who have interests that may conflict with the primary purpose of the institution. Read more
In economics, regulatory capture occurs when a state regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead advances the commercial or special interests that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure, as it can act as an encouragement for large firms to produce negative externalities. The agencies are called "captured agencies". Read more
It’s our top priority among criminal investigations—and for good reason.
Public corruption poses a fundamental threat to our national security and way of life. It impacts everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts…to the quality of our roads, schools, and other government services. And it takes a significant toll on our pocketbooks, wasting billions in tax dollars every year.
The FBI is singularly situated to combat this corruption, with the skills and capabilities to run complex undercover operations and surveillance. Read more
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 Dept. of Justice
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1, et seq. ("FCPA"), was enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Specifically, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA prohibit the willful use of the mails or any means of instrumentality of interstate commerce corruptly in furtherance of any offer, payment, promise to pay, or authorization of the payment of money or anything of value to any person, while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered, given or promised, directly or indirectly, to a foreign official to influence the foreign official in his or her official capacity, induce the foreign official to do or omit to do an act in violation of his or her lawful duty, or to secure any improper advantage in order to assist in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person.
Since 1977, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA have applied to all U.S. persons and certain foreign issuers of securities. With the enactment of certain amendments in 1998, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA now also apply to foreign firms and persons who cause, directly or through agents, an act in furtherance of such a corrupt payment to take place within the territory of the United States.
The FCPA also requires companies whose securities are listed in the United States to meet its accounting provisions. See 15 U.S.C. § 78m. These accounting provisions, which were designed to operate in tandem with the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA, require corporations covered by the provisions to (a) make and keep books and records that accurately and fairly reflect the transactions of the corporation and (b) devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls.
For particular FCPA compliance questions relating to specific conduct, you should seek the advice of counsel as well as consider using the Department of Justice's FCPA Opinion Procedure
Public opinion surveys show a correlation between corruption and the lack of confidence many citizens have in their governments. Besides undermining trust on governmental institutions and politicians, corruption also affects citizens economically. Fighting corruption is a key aspect of the democratic exercise of power demanded under the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus, is a priority issue for all OAS member states.
Organization of American States Wikipedia
Reddit: Corruption is everywhere
Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It is a structural phenomenon of human society, which hurts us all. However, it is not inevitable and deserves more attention and discussion. See the work of Transparency International.
The Corruption Perceptions Index 2011, YouTube Video
Poverty. Inequality. Broken Public services. Politicians who serve themselves. Business owners who abuse their power. From India to Athens, from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring – all over the world people are taking to the streets. Whilst their grievances are particular to each country, there remains a common thread throughout - Corruption.
Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority. Corruption holds back economic development, prevents a free market operating for businesses and consumers, and further exploits already marginalised groups.
CREW uses high-impact legal actions to target government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests.
Many Americans have given up on our political system, writing off our elected leaders as crooks. At CREW, we believe politicians must be held accountable for their actions. Day in and day out, we work to ensure government officials - regardless of party affiliation- act with honesty and integrity and merit the public trust. Read more
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Wikipedia
Citizens Against Corruption (CAC) works to promote citizen action against corruption
Global Integrity Commons
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Bribery and corruption The mission of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. Read more
Huffington Post - Corruption
Corruption Prevention Network
Bangkok Post - The World’s Window on Thailand
Corruption 'nears critical' level - Activists accuse govt of refusing to take action