giba logo(Regarding the article in the Boca Beacon on September 28 titled, “Battle still being waged by GIBA over disclosure law”)
To the Editor:
Thank you for sending me your article on the GIBA financial disclosure issue. I wanted to take some time to provide you with some clarifying information, as the issue can get complicated and I’m sure you want to provide your readers with accurate information.
The write-off of automatic fines mentioned in your article relates to individuals who failed to pay their disclosure fines and for whom the statute of limitations on collection of the fines had run out. The GIBA board members have not yet been assessed any fines because they still have one appeal pending with the District Court. The automatic fines mentioned in your article are not currently at issue in the GIBA appeal before the Court.
Our agency, the Florida Commission on Ethics, did not create or seek the 2009 law change that required boards like GIBA to file the Form 6 Full and Public Disclosure of Financial Interests. That law was created and passed in the Florida Legislature. Florida’s financial disclosure laws do not apply to congressmen – they are subject to Federal disclosure laws which we do not enforce.
The Form 6 allows, but does not require, the filing of a tax return.
There are no criminal penalties for non-compliance, civil penalties may be imposed only if a complaint is filed.
GIBA sought an opinion from the Florida Commission on Ethics in 2010, asking whether or not the board members were required to file the Form 6 instead of the Form 1 because of the law change. The Commission issued CEO 10-18 which said that GIBA was required, by law, to file the Form 6. GIBA appealed that decision to the First District Court of Appeal. They lost. The Commission’s opinion was upheld. To date, GIBA has not successfully appealed any of the Commission’s rulings.
GIBA sought a change to the law during the 2011 legislative session, but was unsuccessful. However, in 2012 GIBA was successful in getting the law changed so that they are no longer required to file the Form 6 and can file the Form 1. However, when the law was changed there was no language included in the law that would make it retroactive. In other words, going forward, GIBA members must file Form 1, but for 2009 and 2010, the law requiring a Form 6 is still in effect.
The Commission has not appealed any decision by the Court in this matter because the Commission’s decisions have thus far been upheld by the Court. Thus, the Authority members are — as the Commission has always said they were — required to file Form 6s for 2009 and 2010. The Commission must continue to uphold the law, as written.Currently pending is a second appeal filed by GIBA that challenges the Commission’s denial of a second extension of time for GIBA members to file their 2010 Form 6. We are awaiting a ruling. If you need further information regarding the purpose of the financial disclosure law, the automatic fine process, collections, or the history of this litigation, please let me know.
Thanks again,Kerrie StillmanDirector of Operations& CommunicationsFlorida Commission on Ethics850-488-7864www.ethics.state.fl.us
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