Joint Statement by Speaker Will Weatherford and President Don Gaetz Regarding Legal Challenge of 2013 Ethics Reform Legislation
Tallahassee — Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford today released the following joint statement regarding litigation challenging provisions of Senate Bill 2, the comprehensive ethics reform legislation passed by the 2013 Legislature.
“Senate Bill 2 was the result of historic bipartisan agreement to substantially raise the standards of public conduct in our state. The bill, including the blind trust provision challenged by this litigation, was supported by every Democrat and every Republican in both the House and the Senate.
“The provision dealing with blind trusts was formally recommended to the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee by the Florida Commission on Ethics on October 29, 2012. The Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury on December 7, 2010, also specifically recommended the creation of blind trusts.
“Former state-wide elected officials, both Democrat and Republican, have used blind trusts in order to avoid conflicts of interest. The purpose of the blind trust section of Senate Bill 2 is to provide specific requirements so that officeholders’ financial dealings would be managed independent of their public duties and in a way that cannot be controlled or even influenced by the officeholder. Section 112.31425, as enacted into law, creates the description and regulation of blind trusts as both the Ethics Commission and the Grand Jury advocated.
“Under Senate Bill 2, notice of the use of a blind trust must be filed publically with the Commission on Ethics, must include a complete list of the assets that were placed in trust, and must meet strict tests of independence provided for in the law.
“For the plaintiff to suddenly come forward with his objections four years after the Grand Jury report, two years after the Ethics Commission’s recommendations and one year after Senate Bill 2 was enacted raises the suspicion that this is not a serious or sincere constitutional challenge but a cynically-timed political ploy designed and timed to affect the outcome of this year’s elections.
“We are proud that the motivation, development and passage of Senate Bill 2 was not only bipartisan but unanimous. We are disappointed at this clearly partisan attack on a law which former Governor Reubin Askew called, “a welcome miracle.”
CONTACT: Katie Betta, Florida Senate, (850) 487-5229,
Ryan Duffy, Florida House of Representatives, (850) 717-5000