During the most recent city commission meeting, elected leaders passed an ethics ordinance that allows for anonymous complaints and grants self-initiating authority to the City’s Independent Ethics Board.
The City’s Independent Ethics Board has been seeking more authority from the city commission based on the referendum approved by voters in 2014.
However, the ordinance adopts language that proponents for stronger ethics rules argues will make it harder to prove ethics violations.
The ordinance adopts a “corrupt intent” standard while others have argued for a standard of “intentionally and knowingly.”
Peter Butzin, on behalf of Common Cause, spoke to the city commission about the ethics ordinance.
Butzin, who has worked with local groups for the last couple of years on city ethics issues, asked the city commission “to provide the independent ethics commission with the powers to investigate anonymous complaints and an enforcement standard of intentionally and knowingly rather than corruptly…”
Butzin told the commission that the corrupt intent language will make it virtually impossible to prove ethics violations.
During the discussion between commissioners, it was determined that anonymous complaints will be allowed under the ordinance through the City’s Independent Ethics Board.
The anonymous complaint component of the ordinance, along with the self-initiating authority, makes the new ethics law more stringent than rules in place with the Florida Commission on Ethics.
The city commission passed the ordinance with the “corrupt intent” language, which is consistent with state law.