Facing worsening backlog, ethics panel seeks additional staff

The Florida Commission on Ethics will ask the Legislature for spending flexibility to deal with a backlog in cases that is expected to worsen.

In a budget workshop Tuesday, commissioners agreed to ask lawmakers to continue its current funding level, which amounts to $2.7 billion. However, Commissioner Don Gaetz raised concerns that the team is understaffed, making it difficult to eat into the existing accumulation of ethics cases.

“We’ve had investigators out, people have been sick, relatives have been ill, people have left and (it’s) hard to recruit somebody. So it’s been hard to kind of keep a full staff working all the time,” he said during the meeting.

Plus, the continued implementation of 2018’s Amendment 12, which places business and lobbying restrictions on former lawmakers, is expected to deepen the backlog.

“In my conversations with Senate leadership this past week, I believe our workload will increase based on where at least some in the Legislature, in the leadership, think that that implementation will go,” Gaetz said.

Lawmakers during the 2020 Legislative Session passed a bill (HB 7009) to help carry out the 2018 constitutional amendment, intended to slow the revolving door involving public officials and the private sector. The first

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