Group ranks Fla. No 1 for government corruption

Integrity Florida wants tougher laws, enforcement

Published On: Jun 06 2012 05:21:04 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 06 2012 05:24:10 PM EDT

A government watchdog group said Wednesday that Florida leads the country in public corruption and blamed weak laws for the rampant abuse of power.

According to Integrity Florida, more than 780 Florida politicians have been convicted on federal corruption charges in the last decade.

The report comes as the Florida Commission on Ethics prepares to draft its 2013 legislative agenda. The nonprofit Integrity Florida is offering several suggestions, including establishing a hotline where callers can remain anonymous and giving the ethics commission the authority to launch its own investigations.

Integrity Florida also wants elected officials to disclose all their finances online for public viewing.

Integrity Florida also wants the maximum civil penalty for ethics laws violations increased from $10,000 to $25,000.

Some of these ideas have been suggested before, but the group hopes the report brings a renewed sense of urgency to the state Legislature.

"I think the time is right for some real political leadership," said Ben Wilcox, of Integrity Florida.

The report suggests corruption knows no bounds. Black, white, men and women have all been caught ripping off Florida taxpayers.

"Corruption is a nonpartisan issue," said Dan Krasner, of Integrity Florida.