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Haridopolos to get letter, no fine

by John Kennedy | February 24th, 2011

Senate President Mike Haridopolos should get a “letter of admonition” but not be fined for failing to accurately file his state financial disclosure forms for five consecutive years, the Senate Rules Committee said Thursday.

Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, didn’t attend the rules meeting. But the Republican-dominated panel took about 10 minutes before deciding the Senate chief’s fate in an 11-0 vote.

Asked if he had any second thoughts about casting a vote because he had already endorsed Haridopolos for U.S. Senate, Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said, “Hell, no.”

The Florida Commission on Ethics in December reached a legal stipulation with Haridopolos, in which he acknowledged that he filed flawed forms and later submitted amended copies of the disclosure documents.

Haridopolos failed to include a $325,000 Lake County home which he and his wife own and details about clients of his MJH Consulting firm and others he represented for Syntax Communications of Long Island, NY., which paid him $25,000 from 2004 through 2006.  On the re-filed forms, he also provided more details on his assets and liabilities, which include a $1.3 million home in Merritt Island.

Haridopolos, whose primary income source was $79,000 as a visiting professor at the University of Florida, reported a $233,609 net worth last year. The complaint against Haridopolos was filed with the Ethics Commission by a voter in his Senate district, Eugene “Bucky” Benson, 79, of Vero Beach. The retired engineer said that he was unsatisfied with the settlement, saying a stiffer fine was needed to encourage lawmakers to take financial disclosure laws seriously.

In a letter to the Rules Committee, Haridopolos said his errors weren’t done to evade.

“None of these mistakes were intentional or meant to hide any personal information,” wrote Haridopolos, who has raised $1 million for his challenge to Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson next year. “To be clear, all of my income over this period was reported on the original forms. Nonetheless, I did not adequately follow the instructions on the forms that were filed and relied on forms from previous years for consistency.”

Haridopolos apologized to the Senate, and said, “I have learned from this process.”

The committee staff cited as precedent for not fining the Senate president two financial disclosure cases involving lawmakers in 2000, where admonishments were handed down, but not further penalties. 

Eric Jotkoff, a Florida Democratic Party spokesman, said Thursday’s ruling showed Florida Republicans, “can’t police themselves.”

Haridopolos’ fellow Brevard County Republican, Rep. John Tobia of Melbourne, last month was found to have failed to fully disclose his personal finances on reports filed for 2007, 2008 and 2009. A freshman state senator, Jim Norman, a Tampa Republican, needed an appeals court ruling last fall to be reinstated on the ballot after a lower court disqualified him as a candidate for a flawed financial disclosure report.

Norman failed to reveal a $500,000 house listed in his wife’s name, although he later amended the disclosure to claim the dwelling.

The Ethics Commission also is considering walking away from more than $300,000 in fines owed by almost 300 former public officials who failed to file their state-required disclosure forms when they were due. Those fined have failed to respond to state requests for payment and have dodged collection agencies.

One of those on the list of officials, Joe Celestin, a former North Miami mayor, is a candidate for a Miami House seat in a special election next month.

7 Responses to “Haridopolos to get letter, no fine”

  1. papabear Says:

    Learned from his mistakes AND took action to fix them. Thanks, Mike, for being the bigger man here. Unlike the manchildren at Progress Florida and the FL Democrat Party who can’t fight you on the issues.

  2. In One Ear Says:

    The letter of admonition, that’s the same thing Burt Aaronson received for his miscue, right? Seems only fair.

  3. Scott Says:

    Between being State Senator, a visiting professor and a consultant his salary is approximately $120,000 per year. Barely enough to qualify for a loan on that $325,000 house, let alone one worth $1.3 million. Perhaps someone should look into that?

  4. monkeysauce Says:

    Ah, Progress Florida. Shock troops of Bill nelson and FDP are probably trolling the Internets bashing this guy over nothing. Just like they’re intended to do. People are gonna see right through all the lousy reporting and spin and see it was an honest mistake. And Mike looks like the honest one for doing what he could to make it right.

  5. Kevin Says:

    Just the good ol boys watching each other back. These Florida Republicans are so used to hiding their income and assets from the tax collector that it is treated like business as usual. When someone is caught they claim ignorance and it’s accepted without question. They know the rules but choose not to follow them and actually take pride getting away with it. Of course nobody is going to push the issue because they are all doing it. Impeach every single one the bastards.

  6. RPOF is Corrupt Says:

    An honest mistake? The guy teaches classes regarding these very issues. Mickey does not have an ethical bone in his body. Thats why he did not claim them. This guy is a scumbag just like the rest of em.

  7. mustlovedawgs611 Says:

    Correction Haridopolos teaches classes about how to pass legislation in a modern world. He is not an expert on campaign finance law nor does he hold himself out to be one. The difference is here is that Haridopolos is solely focused on passing meaningful legislation as reflected by his courses meanwhile the liberal propaganda machine is lying to portray him as a scheming individual.

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