Florida Senator Abruzzo (D-District 25) accused of cronyism

Senator Joseph Abruzzo, Democrat – Senate District 25.

Daniel B. Krassner, Executive Director Integrity Florida in a letter to Florida Senator Joseph Abruzzo, Democrat – Senate District 25, states, “We understand that your request for the review of Palm Beach County’s Ethics Commission came less than a week after your legislative assistant, Philip Massa, failed to get the Ethics Commission’s executive director job.  Your financial disclosures indicate that you work for a law firm that represents the City of Boca Raton as a client, an entity under the jurisdiction of the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission.”

Cronyism is defined as, “Favoritism shown to old friends without regard for their qualifications, as in political appointments to office.”

Krassner’s letter ends with, “We respectfully request that you petition President Gaetz to withdraw his directive for an OPPAGA review of the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission, which would likely save Florida taxpayers thousands of dollars and increase public trust.”

According to Krassner, “An OPPAGA review of the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics, which was created in May 2010, would be premature for such a new entity and a massive waste of taxpayer resources. As you know, OPPAGA projects often take between 1500-2000 hours of staff time at an average rate of $75 per staff hour plus expenses for travel and other needs. An OPPAGA review of such a small entity seems more than overkill.”

“In fiscal year 2011-2012, the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics expended just eighty-eight percent of budgeted expenditures, a savings of four percentage points over projected savings, a savings of approximately $70,000 to taxpayers. In 2011, the National Association of Counties presented its Achievement Award to Palm Beach County for its sweeping ethics reform measures. With just five full-time staff and a budget of approximately $500,000, the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics has delivered significant results and earned a reputation for honesty, integrity and character,” noted Krassner.

On November 29, 2012, Florida State University’s LeRoy Collins Institute (LCI) and Integrity Florida released the latest Tough Choices report that analyzes Florida’s local governments’ ethics reforms and policies. While Florida’s statewide ethics laws have been essentially frozen in time since Governor Reubin O’D. Askew championed reform in the 1970s, the report finds ethics reforms at the county and city level are alive and growing.

According to U.S. Department of Justice data, from 2000 – 2010, Florida led the nation in federal public corruption convictions.

While some of these convictions have been of state officials, many of these corruption scandals have involved local government officials. Florida Counties Bridge the Ethics Policy Gap analyzed survey results on ethical programs and reforms in 45 of Florida’s 67 counties focusing on the areas of ethics policy, ethics enforcement, lobbying, campaign financing and procurement.

Read Integrity Florida’s County Ethics Report “Tough Choices” here.

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