Group asks Abruzzo to withdraw audit request of PBC ethics commissionby Jennifer Sorentrue | April 5th, 2013
A nonpartisan research institute is urging state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo to withdraw his request for a state audit of Palm Beach County’s three-year-old ethics commission.
In a letter to Abruzzo on Friday, Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, said the review would be a “massive waste of taxpayer resources.”
The Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, known as OPPAGA, said this week that it had launched a review of the commission’s $500,000 budget, its operating procedures and the methods it uses to enforce the county’s ethics rules. Abruzzo, D-Wellington, asked the Senate president’s office to order the audit.
“If there was a legitimate reason for a review of the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission, then a transparent and accountable approval process should have been followed as is utilized for other OPPAGA projects initiated by the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee,” Krassner wrote in the letter.
Krassner said OPPAGA reviews typically take between 1,500 and 2,000 hours to complete at an average rate of $75 per hour.
“An OPPAGA review of such a small entity seems more than overkill,” Krassner wrote.
Compared with other Palm Beach County departments, the ethics commission is small. The office employs five staffers with a budget of less than $500,000.
Its five-member commission is made up of volunteers, each selected by a different community-based group, such as the police chief’s association.
Abruzzo said Thursday that he has some “concerns” about the ethics commission, but he declined to discuss them in detail.
“I am waiting until the audit is complete,” Abruzzo said.
The non-profit Integrity Florida was created last year as a watchdog group to expose public corruption.
West Palm Beach marketing consultant Marty Rogol serves on the Integrity Florida’s board of directors. Rogol helped craft Palm Beach County’s ethics rules, which created the county’s ethics commission and the Office of Inspector General.