By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Tallahassee
TALLAHASSEE — As she runs for governor in 2022, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will have to fend off allegations that she violated state law by not properly disclosing financial information.
The state Commission on Ethics on Wednesday issued an order finding “probable cause” that Fried did not properly report income in 2017 and 2018 on financial-disclosure forms filed with the state.
The commission ordered a public hearing about whether Fried, who was a medical-marijuana lobbyist before getting elected in 2018, violated state law. The commission made the probable-cause determination Friday and released the order and other case documents Wednesday.
Commission staff members started an investigation after Evan Power, a Leon County Republican leader and lobbyist, filed a complaint in June. The complaint came after Fried filed amended financial-disclosure forms that showed substantially more income in 2017 and 2018 than she previously reported.
Power’s complaint alleged that Fried, a Democrat, violated the “public trust” by not fully and accurately submitting reports for 2017 and 2018.
But in an August response, Fried’s attorney, Benedict Kuehne, described the complaint as “meritless.”
“The complaint is nothing more than a calculated political effort to impugn Commissioner Fried’s integrity during the election season and should be dismissed outright for lack of legal sufficiency and probable cause,” Kuehne wrote.
State elected officials are required by law to file annual forms that detail information such as income, assets, liabilities and net worths. Disclosure requirements also apply to state candidates, as Fried was for the first time in 2018.
Generally, the reports reflect financial information from the end of the prior year. For example, a report filed in 2018 would reflect financial information from 2017. They are designed, at least in part, to shed light on any conflicts of interest for public officials.
A probable-cause recommendation filed in September by commission Advocate Elizabeth Miller, a lawyer, said Fried in June 2018 reported receiving income of $84,000 in 2017 from her lobbying firm Igniting Florida, LLC. In May 2021, she filed an amended form that reported $165,761 in income for 2017.
Also, Miller wrote that Fried on July, 1, 2019, filed a report that showed zero income in 2018 from the lobbying firm. On Jan. 30, 2020, Fried filed an amended form showing $72,000 in income in 2018. In May 2021, she filed another amended form listing the income as $351,480.
The documents filed by Miller and Kuehne said Jason Blank, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, helped prepare the forms. Blank told investigators that he received the financial information from Fried and later determined amendments were necessary after consulting with her accountant and reviewing tax returns.
Kuehne’s August response said Fried “disclosed her financial interests in as complete a manner as possible and amended the Form 6 (the financial disclosure form) when new and updated information was brought to her and Mr. Blank’s attention.”
Fitst you didn’t have a y money to put on for.s but now we know about the gifts from the marijuana fiancee for 2 years
and still married.You will never get my vote you remind me too much like Gillum.DeSantis test kits were rated fine.Apologize
Nikki Fried Chicken is posting party girl pix on twitter thinking the typical North Florida Resident will vote for her.
she just another liberal lier “let’s go brandon”
When is the wedding?
BTW folks this is the same leftist ethics commission that gave good old A. Gillum that mild little slap on the wrist…remember?
Just saying dont expect too much if anything at all. In fact the commission will likely delay untill after the election.
“Fried on July, 1, 2019, filed a report that showed zero income in 2018 from the lobbying firm. On Jan. 30, 2020, Fried filed an amended form showing $72,000 in income in 2018. In May 2021, she filed another amended form listing the income as $351,480.” …………. If she is making THAT kind of Money then, WHY would she want to be the Agriculture Commissioner? OH, so she could get a HUGE leg up on the Pot Business and be able to keep others from being her Competition ……DUH. WHY isn’t THAT under investigation?
Nikki Weed was toast anyway, once Chuckles the Clown Crist jumped in that is. Here’s the best part of this article…
“The commission made the probable-cause determination Friday and released the order and other case documents Wednesday.”
… and the Weed team response is that the complaint “…should be dismissed outright for lack of legal sufficiency and probable cause,”
Do you see what weed does to the brain?
Officially and literally Nikki’s political campaign is in the weeds. Charlie Crist is a happy man.
ALSO: Isn’t she in charge of the Weed Businesses in Florida and yet she is part owner of one of the biggest ones?
Looks like most of that money went into botox injections….
While it may look like Ron Desantis’ dirty little ankle biter has disgraced herself in the eyes of conservatives keep in mind that for our leftist population everything she has done including this latest revelation is a big plus in leftist eyes.
Be careful getting all smug and joyful in your thinking “thats it we got her now”. That just shows that you do not know your enemy.
I swear to God, every time I see this woman’s face, all I see is the Batman villain “The Joker”. Nikki, please do us all a favor and stop publicly showing your face; you’re scaring the children.
Thank you Evan Power.
This is what happens when voters don’t research the candidates. In the next election even the Democrats will vote straight Republican after the failed Brandon Administration. It will take decades for the Democrats to recover from their own self-inflicted wounds.
Nope, didn’t have any income from the lobbying business, zero. I swear.
Oh wait… there was that 72,000.00 I forgot about, easy mistake to forget about 72k, anyone could do it.
In fact, I didn’t just forget about the 72k… I forgot about all 351,480 dollars of it.
There could be more, I can’t remember, I’ll let you know if I remember any more, but in the meantime, I swear this is all I made from lobbying.
That woman is a piece of work.
Nikki–You’ve been drinking from the public trough for too long. Get a real job. And being a “marijuana lobbyist” isn’t a real job. See what that stuff does to you? It makes you think you can lie and get away with it.