FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Lucia Ross
October 4, 1999
Florida's tough legislation on dealing with violent criminals - proven effective by recent crime statistics showing marked declines in violent crime - has not mirrored the laws dealing with the corruption of public officials. Current laws have often been ineffective in dealing with public corruption issues.
Although most of Florida's officials are honest and dedicated, corruption by a public official can be a greater crime than some street crimes because it contributes to the erosion of the public's trust in government. That erosion of trust is a problem of monumental proportions. A recent survey by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida State University revealed that over 62% of Florida citizens are concerned about public corruption and abuse of government authority.
"The public's confidence in state government and our elected leaders must be maintained," Governor Bush said. "We must treat cases of public corruption with the utmost seriousness, and we must have an effective system in place that is capable of dealing with corruption when it occurs in the public sector. I am confident this new commission will make it easier in the future to investigate and prosecute anyone who violates the public trust."
FDLE Commissioner Tim Moore, who was appointed to the Commission, said: "We need to make our laws governing public corruption very clear and the criminal sanctions very strong for those who choose to violate the public trust." State prosecutors in Florida have experienced cases involving obvious public misconduct that have somehow "missed the mark" for prosecution because the closest criminal statute did not fit that particular circumstance. These experiences in Florida suggest that the time has come to modify and improve the state's responses to violations of public trust. The Commission appointed by Governor Bush is the first step in that response.
The need for this action is obvious. The overwhelming majority of dedicated government officials who are ethical deserve better, and most importantly, the citizens of Florida deserve better.