Hillsborough Commissioner wants to bring up ethics reform by Mitch E. Perry

WMNF Drive-Time News Monday



Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higgenbotham’s attempt to get ban gifts among a package of ethics reform is off to a slow start after the freshman Commissioner failed to get the proposal on today’s agenda.


It remains to be seen whether the Commission will endorse whatever Higgenbotham proposes.  2 years ago, former Commissioner Kathy Castor attempted similar legislation, with mixed results.


The freshman commissioner said he planned to get the issue on the Board’s next meeting.

 (roll tape#1 o.q.”to us”)


In Washington, Democrats nationally won the Congress last fall by promising ethics reform….And in Tallahassee, the state legislature over a year ago passed a law banning lobbyists and their clients from making "any expenditure" to lawmakers


Commissioner Higginbotham insisted that his intentions were not to single out any fellow Board member (roll tape#2 o.q.”  here in Hillsborough”)


Last year a state investigation concluded that lobbying fees Higginbotham received  while working for the state agency that represents death row inmates violated Florida statutes that prohibit certain agencies from using public funds to lobby the Legislature.


The St. Petersburg Times reported that investigators wanted state attorneys for the state to try to recoup the nearly $200,000 paid to Higgenbotham. 


During the public comment portion of the County Commission’s meeting, regular speaker Marilyn Smith called out Higgenbotham about this story, raising the ire of Commission Chairman Jim Norman (roll tape#3 o.q.”he brought up the subject”)


Although the Florida Department of Financial Service’s Office of Fiscal Integrity had sent a report about Higgenbotham to the Florida Commision on Ethics, a spokeswoman for that agency told WMNF today that because an individual complaint had not been filed against Higgenbotham, there is no record of any report on him.

 Higgenbotham says he hopes to bring the issue back up before the Board next month.

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