CEO 76-95 -- May 17, 1976
NO RESPONSIBILITY TO AUDIT FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE STATEMENTS FILED BY CANDIDATES
To: Anne E. Johnson, City Clerk, Sweetwater
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
The Code of Ethics requires that candidates for public office file statements of financial disclosure together with and at the same time they file their qualifying papers. A city clerk who is responsible for qualifying candidates for municipal office therefore is required to see that each candidate submits such statement of disclosure as a part of his qualifying for election. The law imposes no duty upon the clerk to examine such statements for accuracy or thoroughness of completion, however. This responsibility rests with the disclosing candidate and may be challenged by a citizen via the filing of a sworn complaint with the Ethics Commission.
As a city clerk charged with the responsibility of qualifying candidates for municipal office, am I required by the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees to verify information submitted by a candidate on the statement of financial disclosure before qualifying such candidate?
Your question is answered in the negative.
The Code of Ethics requires that "[a] person seeking nomination or election to a state or local elective office shall file a statement of financial interests together with, and at the same time he files, his qualifying papers." Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(2)(a)(1975). Inasmuch as you, the city clerk, are responsible for qualifying candidates for office in your municipality, you are required by the above-quoted statute to see that each candidate submits, as a part of his qualifying papers, the statement of financial interests as prescribed by Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(3)(1975). The law does not charge you, however, with the duty to verify the contents of such statements.
The financial disclosure statement, CE Form 1, is to be executed, signed, and dated by the disclosing person. The responsibility for accuracy and thoroughness of completion accordingly rests with the disclosing candidate. Information disclosed on the statement is assumed to be complete and correct unless challenged by a citizen via the filing of a sworn complaint with the Ethics Commission pursuant to procedures prescribed in Fla. Stat. s. 112.324(1975). As city clerk, however, your only duty in regard to the filing of financial disclosure by candidates is to make sure that CE Form 1 is filed as a part of each candidate's qualifying papers.