The Florida Commission on Ethics is a nine-member Commission with a staff of approximately twenty-five employees located in Tallahassee, that serves as the guardian of the standards of conduct for officers and employees of Florida and its political subdivisions and functions as an independent commission responsible for investigating and issuing public reports on complaints of breach of the public trust by public officers and employees. The Commission also renders legally binding advisory opinions interpreting the ethics laws and implements the State's financial disclosure laws.
The Commission members serve two-year terms. Five members are appointed by the Governor, with no more than three from the same political party. One member appointed by the Governor must be a former city or county official. Two members are appointed by the President of the Senate and two members by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Neither the President nor the Speaker may appoint more than one member from the same political party. No member may hold any public employment or serve more than two full terms in succession; however, a member may continue to serve after his or her term expires, until a replacement is appointed.
The Commission's Functions and Responsibilities
The Commission, by majority vote, interprets and applies Florida's ethics laws by acting on complaints, recommending penalties, and issuing legal opinions. Also, the Commission hires the Executive Director, recommends changes in the ethics laws to the Legislature, and adopts rules of procedure and an operating budget.
The Commission's Staff
- The Legal Section drafts legal opinions, orders, rules, and proposed legislation for consideration by the Commission, represents the Commission in litigation, and responds to inquiries about the ethics laws.
- The Public Information Section provides information regarding Commission practices and procedures to the press, the public, and other states, and responds to inquiries about the Commission and the ethics laws.
- The Investigative Section investigates complaints of violations of the ethics laws and compiles narrative investigative reports.
- The Financial Disclosure Section handles and supervises the disclosure notification process, receives and maintains disclosure forms, enforces the timely filing of disclosure forms, and responds to inquiries about financial disclosure laws.
- The Administrative Section provides administrative and clerical support to the Commission and staff.