Hillsborough County approves Ethics ban03/21/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday
The Hillsborough County Commission today approved a Lobbying Ordinance proposed by Commissioner Al Higgenbotham that bans Commissioners from taking gifts from any paid, registered lobbyists.
Higgenbotham originally introduced a broader type ban shortly after he was inauguerated late last year. He said he had made ethical reform an issue of his candidacy last year, but emphasized again that he was not introducing the legislation in relation to anything that any Commissioners had done (roll tape#1 o.q.”your support on this”)
Commissioner Brian Blair asked County Attorney Mary Helen Ferris if Department heads were under similar scrutiny (roll tape#2 o.q.”already on the books”)
At a previous discussion on the issue, several commissioners, notably Ken Hagen , challenged the reason for any type of ethics reform on gifts. Hagen called it style over substance.
Commissioner Rose Ferlita said that if the new ban proves to be insufficient, the board can always come back come and tighten it (roll tape#3 o.q.” own standards are”)State law already bans gifts from lobbyists valued at more than $100 and requires disclosure of gifts to commissioners from anyone else when they are valued at more than $100.