On Wednesday, the Tallahassee City Commission voted to adopt a 10-year lobbying ban for anyone convicted of a felony related to bribery and honest services fraud.
The ordinance will be drafted by the city attorney and brought back to the city commission at a latter date.
City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox made the motion for a 20- year ban, which was seconded by City Commissioner Jack Porter.
However, due to the reluctance of City Commissioner Curtis Richardson and the desire by some commissioners to achieve unanimous support for any ban, Williams-Cox revised her motion and settled for a 10 year ban.
Adoption of the ordinance will make Tallahassee the first major city in Florida with a lobbying ban.
Origins of Lobbying Ban
At its April 6, 2022, meeting, the Tallahassee City Commission directed the City Attorney to bring back an agenda item exploring the possibility of amending the City’s lobbying ordinance to prohibit individuals convicted of honest services fraud or other crimes, from being registered as a City lobbyist.
The direction to city staff came after Dr. Erwin Jackson – on several occasions – addressed the city commission and had advocated for a change in the lobbying rules to take into consideration felony convictions and dishonest dealings when people register to lobby city officials.
Jackson made the point that current city rules would allow former city commissioner Scott Maddox to register as a lobbyist while serving his prison sentence for federal crimes.
Jackson has advocated for a lifetime ban for convicted felons.
In addition, back in November 2021, Jackson asked the Tallahassee City Commission to make sure that those people that incriminated themselves while testifying in the federal corruption probe not be allowed to appear before the city commission or compete for city contracts.
Jackson used former Maddox associate Gary Yordon as an example.
Jackson said, “we cannot allow Gary Yordon to continue to appear before the city commission as a lobbyist after he admitted under oath that he was part of the Maddox corruption scheme.”
The City Attorney Analysis
The information provided by the Tallahassee City Attorney, Cassandra Jackson, notes that some states – including Florida – limit the right of a person to lobby the government following a felony conviction.
In Florida, a person convicted of a felony cannot register as a lobbyist for the executive or legislative branches until the person has been released from incarceration and any postconviction supervision, and has paid all court costs and court-ordered restitution. In addition, the person must complete the process of having his or her civil rights restored.
Many of these states prohibit individuals from lobbying after a conviction for a violation of the lobbying laws, some impose a ban after conviction of a felony involving dishonesty or corruption, and a few impose a ban after any felony conviction.
In most states, these bans are time-limited to between one and five years. Alaska, Indiana, and Ohio impose a lifetime ban after a felony conviction for certain offenses (i.e., may not register as a lobbyist after conviction).
City Attorney Jackson informs that at the local level in Florida, a review of the top 15 cities and top 10 counties (by population), plus Leon and Alachua counties, disclosed no instances of lobbying bans.
On the issue of banning someone from lobbying based on self-incrimination that did not result in a conviction, City Attorney Jackson states that “As a matter of due process, bans on lobbying are imposed in cases of conviction, not in cases of accusation or allegation said Jackson.”
She adds, “procedural due process refers to the constitutional requirement that when the government acts in such a way that denies a citizen of a life, liberty, or property interest, the person must be given (1) notice; (2) the opportunity to be heard; and (3) a decision by a neutral decision-maker. Taking away an individual’s constitutional right to lobby, in the absence of a conviction following a fair trial, would violate the individual’s right to due process.”
Crime is up higher then ever in Tallahassee not just in the streets but in your local Government
Awww the “GOOD OLE BOY “ connections here in Tallahassee and across the United States! Not what you know but who you know,Regardless of what a person does to the tax payers or how much they can fill their bank accounts and their friends bank accounts,Seems to be the American way these days.Lifetime politicians need to be replaced they get to comfortable with stealing,embezzling,fraud,and the long list of other crimes.These politicians are NO BETTER Then the Mafia.The only difference between the two is Politicians are protected by the Government and all their fellow crooks in office.Change needs to happen NOW! This “GOOD OLE BOY” “PAY TO PLAY” “ WHO YOU KNOW “ criminal enterprise has to stop and there is only one group of people who can do it.WE THE PEOPLE ! WE THE TAX PAYERS! THE RICH GET RICHER THE POOR GET PRISON! Are the people not tired of the one sided rule of law in this country? Whether your Democrat or Republican,Black or White,Spanish or Indian,Are people not tired of the one sided system this country has going on? Most of us if not all except a small percentage have so much in common.We struggle to pay bills we struggle to put good on the table,we struggle to raise our children. Every day is a struggle for us all.The small percentage of The Good ole boys Gang don’t have that struggle because we struggle and pay are taxes so they can fill their accounts and go on vacations or buy new houses and cars etc. Wake up My brothers and sisters and let them know at the polls we are done with this s—t . Tired of the lies,fake promises,and the whole who you know system
The Commission wants to make sure they only work with Lobbyist that are smart enough not to get caught. That way they don’t get caught up in anything either.
If I understand this correctly, if you rob a liquor store your voting rights are taken away forever. But if you rob the taxpayers you get a 10 year suspension.
The 20 year suspension should have been unanimous, as should a lifetime suspension.
The hypocrisy of our leftist commissioners is astounding but expected. Felons can vote for politicians but felons can’t lobby them. The people who shut down your businesses and killed your careers are now asking that you re-elect them so they can keep their jobs. Never forget what they’ve done to you!
People who are not a threat to society should have all the rights of anyone else. If they do their punishment, let them resume their freedom . If they can’t be trusted, they should not be free
They are going to ban themselves?
@ Dennis Barton : “If the elected or appointed official doesn’t know when they are being asked to do something wrong then we have elected or appointed the wrong person.” ……………. $27Million on Stadium Seating, 7.4Million on a Pedestrian Bridge, $7Million to “Restore” two old School Houses, $Hundreds Of Thousands to Paint an Intersection on Gaines Street and there is a lot more than these listed.
How many people wrote a letter to the public for Scott Maddox exalting his worthiness to jump from the school race back to the city race? How many people contributed to Scott Maddox? How many people voted for Scott Maddox? How many people looked the other way? What county administrator allowed Scott Maddox to corruptly get paid (bribe) from Waste Pro? How many did nothing? What Supervisor of Elections allowed Scott Maddox to run when he didn’t live in the correct district?
I don’t think the lobbyists are the complete problem here?
However, since Erwin Jackson and the retired veteran who stuck up for a minority who walked in on Scott Maddox in compromising circumstances and was fired are the only ones who did anything I would think this would pass overwhelmingly.
I tend to side with Dennis on this one. Our deeper concern and focus should be with those elected officials who comply with the criminal lobbyists’ request for illegal, criminal, or otherwise ethically-questionable actions. If elected officials – some in office for decades – need to be taught or otherwise counseled on recognizing what is right and/or wrong… then they’ve already committed the crime(s).
Funny Democrats want convicted felons to vote but no guns and no lobbying.
This is nuts. Lobbying is nothing more than going to an elected or appointed official and asking them to vote or act in a way that is in his or her best interest or that of the client. To suggest that the public will be protected from corrupt acts by of our elected or appointed official if a felon is not permitted to lobby is just…stupid. If the elected or appointed official doesn’t know when they are being asked to do something wrong then we have elected or appointed the wrong person. Quit worrying about the asker and elect or appoint better doers.
Why would there be a need to discuss this? It should be a given that anyone with questionable ethics should be disqualified. Wait, that would disqualify them all…this is sad.
Just issue restraining orders at City Hall for Paige Carter Smith, Scott Maddox, Gary Yordon, Vancore Jones, Sean Pittman, and a few others.
The Tallahassee City Commission is more likely to require that all lobbyist’s be convicted felons.
The very idea that a convicted felon can lobby the city right now is all you need to know about those cretins.
“City Attorney Jackson states that “As a matter of due process, bans on lobbying are imposed in cases of conviction, not in cases of accusation or allegation said Jackson.”” …….. BUT can that person receive a Suspension from Lobbying for a length of Time and could that Time be set for a number of Years?