Dr. Erwin Jackson spoke at the most recent Tallahassee City Commission meeting on the need for more stringent lobbyist regulations.
Dr. Jackson urged the city commission to adopt rules that would limit the lobbying activities of individuals who have been convicted of, or have participated in, criminal activity.
Dr. Jackson said, “Individuals with a criminal record and those who admit under oath to criminal activity should not be allowed to be a registered lobbyist before the City of Tallahassee.”
Jackson commented on the recent convictions of J.T Burnette, former City Commissioner Scott Maddox and Paige Carter-Smith.
Currently, there are no rules in place that would keep those individuals from registering to lobby the City of Tallahassee once they were released from prison.
Dr. Jackson also addressed the situation related to Gary Yordon.
Yordon is a former business partner of Scott Maddox who testified in the federal corruption trial. Yordon was never indicted.
However, Yordon testified that a client paid him $25,000 up front and $3,000 a month for lobbying services and that the money went immediately to a lobbying firm controlled by Scott Maddox.
Yordon also testified that the transfer of money took place to avoid any ethical complaints or perceived conflicts of interest since Maddox was a city commissioner at the time.
Yordon is currently registered to lobby the City of Tallahassee.
City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox has addressed the issue at a previous city commission meeting. During that meeting, City Attorney Cassandra Jackson noted that their are some jurisdictions that limit lobbying activities of convicted felons.
However, she said that limiting the lobbying privileges of someone who was not found guilty of a crime could be more problematic.
City staff was directed to research the issue and report back to the city commission.