‘Corruption County’ crackdown cruises through House committeeby Dara Kam | March 22nd, 2010
A “Corruption County”-inspired bill that would beef up penalties for county officials who violate ethics ordinances moved forward in a House committee this afternoon.
The changes that would allow counties to go beyond current state law in fines and jail time for county officials and staff who violate local ethics ordinances or financial disclosure requirements.
Under the measure, counties like Palm Beach could double the current fine from $500 to $1,000 and extend jail time from 60 days to one year for corrupt officials.
The House Public Safety and Domestic Security Policy Committee unanimously approved Rep. Kevin Rader’s bill (HB 1301) today.
Rader, D-Delray Beach, and fellow Palm Beacher Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, sponsored the proposals at the request of Palm Beach County officials.
A $1,000 fine may not seem like much of a price to pay for politicos who’ve been convicted of taken thousands of dollars in bribes, steering hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts to their buddies or voting on multi-million dollar deals in which they have a financial stake.
But, Rader said, the fine “and a year in jail is a step in the right direction.”
Palm Beach County recently established an ethics panel in an effort to shed its “Corruption County” image. In the past four years, three former county commissioners and two West Palm Beach city commissioners were sent to prison on corruption charges.