Slimy shenanigans at the Public Service Commission have resulted in one of its lobbyists leaving under fire and three staffers either resigning or put on leave for giving private messaging codes to Florida Power & Light.
The PSC's palsy-walsy relationship with the utilities it regulates is not new. Year after year, allegations surface, investigations ensue, grand juries are empaneled.
Yet in too many cases Florida's Ethics Commission does little to nothing. The Legislature set it up that way.
Florida's toothless ethics rules give ethically challenged public officials too much wiggle room to slither away untouched to conduct more monkey business as usual. Of course, taxpayers pay for it all.
Whether it's wrong-doing at the PSC as it looks to set new rates for electric utilities or questionable flights by state officials to their hometowns on the taxpayers' dime or a local school board member in Broward or a city or county commissioner anywhere voting on projects with ties to a family member's employment, Florida's ethics law remains a toothless kitty cat.
The public is fed up, which is why the Legislature must act in next year's session or risk voters' wrath in the 2010 elections. The Ethics Commission is proposing various changes to the state's code of ethics to attack, among other things, voting conflicts, gifts to public officials from people who do business with the government those officials represent, staff members acting as private conduits on public business and a legal standard that makes wrong-doing difficult to enforce.
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