In June, nonprofit Integrity Florida classified Florida as the most corrupt state in the U.S. Lawmakers are looking to mend that reputation and kill the problem.
The state’s 67 counties were issued an online questionnaire about ethics issues and individual county efforts, said Carol S. Weissert, director of the nonpartisan LeRoy Collins Institute.
Alachua and Citrus Counties didn’t submit responses, but Marion County provided multiple answers involving electronic campaign finances, a code of silence, gift prohibition and ethics training, according to questionnaire on the Leroy Collins website.
The online survey contained 11 questions, ranging from voting conflicts to county ethics commissions.
Integrity Florida Executive Director Dan Krassner said the initiative’s goal is to outline experiences, policy directions and lessons learned from local governments.
He said local officials should bring ideas about ethics reform to Tallahassee.
“We encourage the county officials and the ethics reformers from across Florida who are involved in the efforts to pass these policies to come to Tallahassee and share these experiences — good and bad,” he said.
Weissert said working with cities and the state to update provisions is the next step in the ethics reform process.
“Ethics reform is not just about cracking down on corruption,” he said. “Ethics reform at the county and state level is also about creating a culture of trust and integrity in government.”
Weissert said counties are trying to combat ethics violations on their own.
“In many of these instances, reform did follow corruption, but I think what we’re seeing now is we’re seeing counties where they’re not having corruption and they’re trying to make these changes,” she said. “[For] the citizens, there’s a lot of skepticism about government today, so if the local governments and the state governments put in place strong ethics policies, that is a sign that we care about this issue.”