Ethics Resources

Ethics - April

CCC WORKSHOP - ETHICS, PUBLIC RECORDS, AND SUNSHINE LAW - April 4, 2017 (6 Core Credits)

During the 2013 Legislative Session, the Florida legislature passed new ethics legislation requiring that Commissioners and other Constitutional Officers take four hours of Ethics programming each calendar year.

 

Since 1996, as part of FAC’s Certified County Commissioner (CCC) Program, FAC has offered a comprehensive 6 hour mandatory Ethics, Public Records & Sunshine Law Course. Our existing course meets the requirements addressed in the 2013 legislation. FAC expanded the pre-existing Ethics program so Ethics courses are now offered three times a year so Commissioners and Constitutional Officers have more opportunities to meet their requirements.  In addition to offering the three workshops during the year, FAC also offers an online Ethics workshop (no CCC credit or Torchbearer credit is given for the online workshop).  All 2016 Ethics programs are offered as either pre- or post-conference events in conjunction with our Legislative Day (April 4), Annual (June 27) and Legislative Conference (November 14).

Registration for the Ethics workshop has been reduced to $75 and no longer includes lunch prior to the workshop. 

FAC’s program includes expert speakers from the Attorney General’s Office and the Florida Commission on Ethics to explain Florida’s stringent laws. Participants will learn ethics requirements for elected officials, understand the Sunshine Law and Public Records Law, learn about reporting requirements, and become familiar with the process of an ethics complaint.

 

ONLINE ETHICS COURSE NOW AVAILABLE!

FAC also offers an online Ethics workshop featuring our Ethics workshop speakers which may be completed in three sessions.  Registration is done through the FAC portal and the registration fee has been reduced to $75. Upon completion of viewing the three videos, you will be issued a Certificate of Completion showing that you have fulfilled the Ethics requirement for this year.  Commissioners who choose the online Ethics option will not receive CCC or Torchbearer credits for viewing.  You must complete viewing all three videos and answer the questions after each video before December 31, 2017 to receive a Certificate of Completion for the calendar year 2017.

Throughout the year, FACTOR provides numerous educational opportunities and a wealth of information on Ethics, Sunshine Laws and Public Records for our membership. Now for the first time, all of this information has been compiled online in one place, with easy access!

FACTOR's Ethics Resource Center is a one-stop location for...

 

Education & Training


During the 2013 Legislative Session, the Florida legislature passed new ethics legislation requiring that Commissioners and other Constitutional Officers take four hours of Ethics programming each calendar year.

Since 1996, as part of FACs Certified County Commissioner (CCC) Program, FAC has offered a comprehensive 6 hour mandatory Ethics, Public Records & Sunshine Law Course. Our existing course meets the requirements addressed in this new legislation. FAC will continue to offer this Ethics program but will now have more opportunities for Commissioners and Constitutional Officers to meet their requirements by holding  at least three Ethics workshops beginning in 2014, instead of just one a year. We plan to offer most of these programs as either pre- or post-conference events in conjunction with our Legislative Day (March), Annual (June) and Legislative Conference (November).  The online Ethics workshop is another option available to our members who are unable to attend a class.

FACs program includes expert speakers from the Attorney Generals Office and the Florida Commission on Ethics to explain Floridas stringent laws. Participants will learn ethics requirements for elected officials, understand the Sunshine Law and Public Records Law, learn about reporting requirements, and become familiar with the process of an ethics complaint.

FAC also now offers an online Ethics workshop featuring our Ethics workshop speakers which may be completed in three sessions.  Registration is done through the FAC portal and the registration fee is $75. Upon completion of viewing the three videos, you will be issued a Certificate of Completion showing that you have fulfilled the Ethics requirement for this year.  Commissioners who choose the online Ethics option will not receive CCC or Torchbearer credits for viewing. 

The following organizations provide courses on Ethics, Public Records, and Sunshine Laws endorsed by FAC:

 

 

Government in the Sunshine/Ethics


Quicklinks

 

The Sunshine Law: Open Meetings and Public Records

In Florida, the people have a constitutional right to open government at the state and local levels. This right extends to elected and appointed boards, including boards of county commissioners and extends to public records and to open meetings. The constitutional provision is found in Article I, section 24 of the Florida Constitution. Many statutory provisions deal with public records and open meetings but much of the law is found in Chapters 119 and 286 of the Florida Statutes.

The Florida Attorney General has outstanding resources available on the internet and they may be accessed here.

 

Sunshine Technology Team

In September 2009, the state Attorney General announced a new policy that the Attorney Generals Office would begin to treat Blackberry PIN messages and Blackberry text messages as public records by automatically retaining those messages that travel through the agency server. In addition to the new PIN policy, the Attorney General formed a Sunshine Technology Team to explore the open government requirements as related to electronic communications and emerging technology. The team was led by the Attorney Generals Chief of Staff and included input from public records advocates, technology experts, media specialists, communications officials and government officials. Other forms of electronic communications that were reviewed included text messaging, instant messaging, and voice over internet protocol. You can click here to view the final press release summarizing the work of the Team and a letter to the Department of State from the Attorney General asking for rule development for public record retention schedules on these new technologies.

 

Ethics

Florida has strong ethics standards for public officials and recognizes the right of her citizens to protect the public trust against abuse. The Florida Constitution requires that a code of ethics for all state employees and non-judicial officers prohibiting conflict between public duty and private interests be prescribed by law. The Commission on Ethics has been created to investigate complaints concerning breaches of public trust by public officers and employees other than judges. The Commission has an outstanding website, containing research, pamphlets, and advisory opinions. Click here to view their website.

The National Association of Counties has adopted a Code of Ethics for County Officials. That code was made a Board policy for the Florida Association of Counties in 1997.

 

County Code of Ethics

Some counties in Florida have adopted local ethics codes, ordinances, resolutions and/or policies. Some counties even have a local commission on ethics. The LeRoy Collins Institute in November 2012, released a report "Tough Choices: Florida Counties Bridge the Ethics Policy Gap", which outlines what Florida counties have done in the area of ethics.  To view the report, click here.

 

Elections and Campaign Finance Laws

In 1973, the Florida Elections Commission was created to enforce the campaign finance laws of the state. The Commission's jurisdiction extends to violations of Chapters 104 and 106, covering contributions, political action committees, reporting and many other requirements. The website for this commission also contains legal information, analysis, forms, and opinions.

 

Honest Services

There is federal legislation that also governs the conduct of public officials. At times, not governing oneself in the best interests of constituents is deemed to be depriving them of "honest services" and can, depending on the circumstances, amount to bribery, mail fraud, embezzlement, and undisclosed secret personal interests. There is not a concrete definition of "honest services" and thus not a concrete explanation of how constituents are deprived of them. One federal court has described it as follows: "The typical case of honest services fraud is that the public is not getting what it deserves: honest, faithful, disinterested service from a public official. This concept applies whether the official is bribed or fails to disclose a conflict of interest. Finally, the scheme or artifice must lead to actual or intended actual injury. That is, the official must be performing a discretionary function which the scheme or artifice is intended to influence because it is the exercise of a discretionary function (the "service") which must be the target of the scheme." See United States v. Mangiardi, 962 F. Supp. 49, 51 (M.D. Penn. 1997), aff'd 202 F.3d 255 (3rd Cir. 1999), cert. den. 529 U.S. 1060 (2000). In recent years, more county commissioners in Florida are being investigated by the federal government for violations of honest services; some have even been indicted and convicted.

Resources containing information and examples are below:

 

Commission on Open Government

On June 19, 2007, Governor Charlie Crist issued Executive Order 07-107, creating the Commission on Open Government Reform. The nine member commission was created within the Governors Office of Open Government to review, evaluate, and issue recommendations regarding Floridas public records and public meetings laws. The Commission reviewed the publics right to access government meetings and records according to Section 119 and Section 286.011 of the Florida Statutes, as well as Article 1, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution. Click here to view the Commissions final recommendations.

 

Florida County Government Guide

 

Videos

 

Ethics Guidelines


Ethics Complaint Process (2010 FACA Annual CLE Seminar)

Ethics Panel (2010 FACA Annual CLE Seminar)