City officials in Florida could face increased disclosure rules

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Elected municipal leaders, along with appointed city and county managers, would have to provide more-detailed accounts of their personal finances under a proposal that started moving forward this week.

The House Ethics, Elections & Open Government Subcommittee voted 16-2 on Wednesday to approve the measure (HB 37), filed by Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers.

The bill would require numerous local officials each year to start submitting financial-disclosure reports known as Form 6 reports to the state Commission on Ethics.

Most elected city officials currently are required to fill out less-detailed disclosure reports known as Form 1.

The Form 6 reports require providing information about net worth, assets, liabilities and income. Rep. Kristen Arrington, D-Kissimmee, and Rep. Felicia Robinson, D-Miami Gardens, voted against the proposal because it would require city and county managers to file detailed reports.

“They are people that chose not to be elected. They’re just trying to be hired like any private citizen,” said Robinson, a former Miami Gardens City Council member. “I think there is much transparency through the hiring process.”

Legislators, statewide elected officials and other types of officials, such as county commissioners and school board members, are required to file Form 6 reports.

Roach argued that city and county managers often have a larger role in local government operations than elected officials.

“Because of the influence they wield in making these contractual decisions, and the money that they’re steering, I think it’s important for them also to disclose their financial interest to the public,” Roach said.

A similar proposal last year was not heard by the full House, while the Senate approved a version of the measure.

©2023 The News Service of Florida