Miami Herald: Alex Sink–Release credit card bills
Feb 26, 2010
The Miami Herald published this article on February 26, 2010
By JOHN FRANK
Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau
Amid a backdrop of recent political scandals, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink on Thursday joined the chorus calling for sweeping ethics reforms in Florida.
Sink, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, outlined an 11-point plan designed to restore trust in government “after a never-ending slew of continued scandals.”
“The people of Florida — it’s easy to see they’ve lost faith in government, so I believe it’s past time to change the rules,” she said.
The proposals take aim at the culture of corruption on display in the last year — from the resignation and indictment of former House Speaker Ray Sansom and the financial calamity at the Republican Party of Florida to the guilty plea of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, who cut big checks to Sink, the Democratic Party and numerous GOP officials that were later returned.
Seizing on the controversy surrounding the GOP credit cards, Sink called for full disclosure of all party statements. Republican Party officials are refusing to release them.
Other tenants of her plan include outlawing all gifts from lobbyists to state employees, preventing elected officials from voting when they have a personal financial interest at stake, and expanding the authority of the Commission on Ethics to launch investigations.
Sink is the latest politician running for higher office to advocate for more transparency.
State Sen. Dan Gelber, a Miami Democrat running for attorney general, and state Sen. Paula Dockery, a Lakeland Republican running for governor, also proposed legislation aimed at tightening ethics laws earlier this year.
Sink took her plan a step further by suggesting the expansion of whistle-blower protections to those who reveal information to the media and a requirement for political parties to more regularly disclose campaign finance information ahead of elections.
`A POLITICAL PLOY’
One suggestion took an overtly political tone: a ban on no-bid contracts to campaign consultants. It’s a shot at Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican rival for governor, who hired a campaign media advisor to produce a $1.4 million public service announcement in 2009 without a competitive bidding process. His office used the state’s money from a lawsuit settlement to pay for the commercials.
McCollum called Sink’s plan “a political ploy.”
But he is also pushing for transparency.
His top legislative priority would post legal contracts with outside firms online along with payment information.