Florida Public Employees
January 25, 2014
“You make a mistake, you own up to it, you correct it – that’s one thing. To thumb your nose at the public trust is a whole different thing.” ~ Florida Commission on Ethics member Matthew Carlucci on Rep. Eric Fresen’s (R-Miami) refusal to pay a $1,500 fine for campaign law violations 1
In November, we told you how State Rep. Eric Fresen tried to cut a deal with the state Ethics Commission to let him off the hook for numerous violations of Florida law. This morning in Tallahassee, the Ethics Commission found probable cause that Rep. Fresen violated ethics provisions of the Florida Constitution. The matter has now been referred to Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford to determine Fresen’s penalty.
Florida law allows for a different set of rules for the legislature so they decide their own penalties for ethics violations, while other state and local officials face penalties of up to $10,000 from the Ethics Commission when they violate the law. Fresen has admitted that from 2008-11 he didn’t properly disclose his net worth, assets and liabilities on financial disclosure forms as he was legally required to do. Fresen has also refused to pay a $1,500 fine levied by the Florida Commission on Ethics way back in 2004 for campaign law violations he committed in 2003.2
“I can’t believe that a sitting House member has not paid his fine,” said Ethics Commission member Morgan Bentley.2
Three separate complaints have been filed against Fresen and once the Ethics Commission started investigating they found even more irregularities including a State Farm judgment of $2,521 that had gone unpaid.1 But what is even more troubling is that Fresen has still not paid a $1,500 fine levied by the Ethics Commission going all the way back to 2004.
The Fresen case is Exhibit A as to why we need strong ethics laws with real penalties. Officials fined by the Ethics Commission should pay what they owe to the people of Florida. Help us hold Rep. Fresen accountable, and make sure he and his colleagues know that they are not above the law.
Mark and the rest of the Progress Florida team
1“Ethics Commission not ready to wrap up Fresen case” Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, 10/25/13.
2“State Ethics Panel Refuses to Write Off Lawmakers’ Unpaid Financial Disclosure Fines” Associated Press, 6/15/12.
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