Campaign Finance Reform, Other Research Reports, Latest Updates

Integrity Florida Report Calls the Florida PSC a “Captured” Regulatory Agency

No Comments 02 October 2017

Integrity Florida released a new research report examining the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) and many of the more controversial rate decisions the commission has made in recent years. Read the full report here.

The report, titled Florida’s “Public Service” Commission? A Captured Regulatory Agency, builds on key findings by proposing a series of policy reform options that would greatly improve the PSC’s ability to serve the people of Florida.

“Investor-owned utilities regulated by the PSC have an extraordinary degree of influence on the Governor and the legislature and they have used that influence to pursue favorable decisions by the PSC, at the expense of the public,” said Ben Wilcox, Research Director for Integrity Florida. “This report shows that the Public Service Commission has been “captured” by the very industries it is supposed to regulate.”

The PSC has the dual responsibility of balancing the needs of monopoly utilities and their investors with the needs of consumers. The commission must set rates that are fair, just and reasonable for consumers, but utility investors must also be allowed to earn a reasonable return on their investment. When evaluating recent rate decisions researchers noticed some troubling trends.

“Many contested rate hike requests by utilities are resolved through settlements. However, utilities seem to be gaming the settlement process,” said Alan Stonecipher, Integrity Florida researcher.  “The companies enter negotiations in rate cases much like a used car dealer who marks up the initial asking price knowing that they will eventually agree to a lower amount.”

Read the full report here.

Other Research Reports, Latest Updates

Integrity Florida Publishes New Report on the Impact of Judicial Vacancies on Florida’s Federal Courts

No Comments 11 August 2016

Integrity Florida published a new report that examines Florida’s Federal Judicial Court vacancies and cautions that prolonged inaction by the U.S. Senate could impact the timely administration of justice and result in a crisis in the courts. The report is titled The Impact of Judicial Vacancies on Florida’s Federal Courts.

Florida has 37 authorized federal judges over three districts. For various reasons, there are currently five vacancies, constituting 11 percent of the authorized judges – higher than the national average for court vacancies. Nominations have been made by the President to fill all of the vacancies, but none have been confirmed by the Senate.

“Florida’s federal district courts play a critical role in the administration of both criminal and civil justice,” said Ben Wilcox, Research Director for Integrity Florida. “Unfortunately, prolonged inaction when it comes to filling those vacancies could potentially create obstacles for those seeking access to the courts.” Read the report here.

Ethics Reform, Latest Updates

Florida’s Path to Ethics Reform

No Comments 05 January 2016

ethics cover (2)

Integrity Florida is releasing a new corruption risk report on Florida’s ethics laws titled Florida’s Path to Ethics Reform. The report finds Florida is making progress in the fight against public corruption, but much more should be done. Read the report here.

Key Findings

  • Florida is no longer leading the nation in federal public corruption convictions as was the case from 2000 through 2010. From the latest available Department of Justice data, Florida had 622 public corruption convictions from 2003 through 2013. That means Florida is third behind Texas with 870 corruption convictions and California with 678. Federal public corruption convictions in Florida have declined in recent years.
  • In the 2015 update to the State Integrity Investigation, Florida’s grade for “Ethics Enforcement Agencies” went from an “F” in 2012 to a “D-minus” in 2015. The report cites the ethics reform/anti-corruption measures adopted by the Florida legislature in 2013 and 2014 as the reason for the improvement, but says those reforms “were not enough to make a real impact.”
  • The report examines the anti-corruption recommendations made by the Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury in 2010 and finds only a few have been adopted and the majority have never even been considered by the Florida legislature.

Policy Options for the 2016 Florida legislature.

  • Senate Bill 582 by Senator Don Gaetz would put into law two anti-corruption recommendations of the Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury. The bill would expand the definition of public servants so government vendors could be prosecuted under bribery and misuse of office statutes. It would also remove language in the statutes that requires prosecutors prove defendants acted “corruptly” or with “corrupt intent,” making it easier to prosecute public corruption.
  • Senate Bill 686/House Bill 593 by Senator Gaetz and Representative Larry Metz is an omnibus ethics reform measure that contains the provisions in Senate Bill 582 along with other good reforms including requiring elected city officials to file full financial disclosure.

Read the report Florida’s Path to Ethics Reform for more ethics reform/anti-corruption policy options.

Ethics Reform

Ethics reform

No Comments 15 October 2015

Finish the job of meaningful ethics reform.

The 2016 legislative session begins January 12th and Integrity Florida is pleased that two legislators have announced they will file an anti-corruption bill in both the Senate and the House. The bill was proposed by Gannett News Service and is consistent with Integrity Florida’s research and public policy recommendations. Senator Don Gaetz (R-Destin) and Representative Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne) have pledged to file the legislation. You can read their announcement here.

The bill would put into law two anti-corruption recommendations that were in the 2010 Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury Report titled A Study of Public Corruption in Florida and Recommended Solutions. The bill would expand the definition of “public servants” so government vendors and contractors could be prosecuted under bribery and misuse-of-office statutes.

It also removes language in the statutes that requires prosecutors prove defendants acted “corruptly” or with “corrupt intent.” The grand jury described that language as an extra burden of proof that has limited the effectiveness of corruption laws. Instead prosecutors would only have to meet the standard burden that someone acted “intentionally or knowingly.”

The Nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury report contained additional recommendations to fight corruption in Florida, many of which have never been considered by the legislature. It’s encouraging to see this new legislation and Integrity Florida hopes more legislators will revisit the Grand Jury’s recommendations and use them as a template for future reforms.

Florida Commission on Ethics 2016 Legislative Agenda

The Florida Commission on Ethics adopted its legislative wish list at its September meeting. You can read their legislative priorities here. The recommendations include giving the Commission on Ethics limited authority to initiate an investigation without first receiving a complaint. An extraordinary majority of the Commission would have to agree to initiate the investigation. Giving the Commission the authority to initiate investigations on its own was also a recommendation of the Nineteenth Grand Jury.

The Commission’s legislative agenda also includes increasing the maximum fine for an ethics violation from $10,000 to $20,000 and adding liens on personal property to the Commission’s toolkit to collect unpaid financial disclosure fines. The Commission also wants all elected officials to file the more informative form 6 financial disclosure form rather than the less informative form 1. Currently only constitutional officers are required to file form 6. Integrity Florida is hopeful the legislative priorities of the Commission on Ethics will be the subject of legislation in the 2016 legislative session.

Integrity Florida will be tracking all bills that propose anti-corruption solutions and seek to raise the ethics bar in Florida. This will be the fourth year in a row that ethics in Florida government has seen legislative attention and 2016 has the potential for truly significant improvements.

Related Integrity Florida research publications:

Corruption Risk Report: Financial Disclosure
July 30, 2012

Corruption Risk Report: Florida Ethics Laws
June 6, 2012

Tough Choices: Florida Counties Bridge the Ethics Policy Gap
LeRoy Collins Institute at Florida State University and Integrity Florida
November 29, 2012

House Ethics Reform Bill Analysis by Former Florida Ethics Commission Executive Director Phil Claypool for Integrity Florida
March 17, 2013

Senate Ethics Reform Bill Analysis by Former Florida Ethics Commission Executive Director Phil Claypool for Integrity Florida
March 9, 2013

Senate Bill 606 Analysis by Former Florida Ethics Commission Executive Director Phil Claypool for Integrity Florida – January 17, 2014

Related Media Coverage:

AP: Scott signs ethics, campaign finance bills (read more)

Related government websites:

Florida Commission on Ethics

Statewide Grand Jury Report: A Study of Public Corruption in Florida and Recommended Solutions

Financial Disclosure Reports

Auditor General Reports

Code of Federal Regulations

Florida Inspector General Standards

Florida Statutes


OPPAGA Reports

Professional Standards

Quality Standards

State Circuit Court Map

US Attorney Districts

Broward Office of the Inspector General

Florida Inspector General Look-Up

Florida Inspector General Expertise System (FIGES)

Florida Inspectors General

JLAC – Joint Legislative Auditing Committee

Miami-Dade Office of Inspector General

OAG – Office of the Auditor General

Office of Inspector General, Palm Beach County


Pinellas County Clerk Division of Inspector General

State of Florida 411

Related Research from Other Organizations:

Florida’s Corruption Risk Report Card from State Integrity Investigation

The American Anti-Corruption Act by Represent.Us

CREW’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress

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