TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - They were elected to office, given power by the people and trusted not abuse their authority, but in the past decade more than 780 Florida politicians have been convicted on federal corruption charges.
Tuesday, Integrity Florida released a report ranking the state first in the nation for public corruption, blaming weak laws for the rampant abuse of power.
"It's essentially like having speeding limits but no officers on the beat to catch speeders when they break the law," said Dan Krassner, President of Integrity Florida.
The report comes as the Florida Commission on Ethics prepares to draft its 2013 legislative agenda. Integrity Florida hopes to play a major role in their plans.
The nonprofit government watchdog is offering several suggestions. Including a hotline where callers can remain anonymous and giving the ethics commission the authority to launch its own investigations.
The 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 Research Director with Integrity Florida.
The report suggests corruption knows no bounds, black, white, male or female, all have been caught ripping of Florida taxpayers. It says corruption is a nonpartisan issue.
Another fix for Florida's corruption problem is more transparency. Integrity Florida 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-thousand dollars to 25-thousand.