Florida's Commission on Ethics has hired two collection agencies to pursue nearly a half million dollars in late fees resulting from elected and appointed officials missing or ignoring deadlines for submitting financial disclosure forms. In some cases, the fees have accumulated for more than a decade.
Records show at least 70 people in Miami-Dade County alone owe debt collectors approximately $77,000 for not filing disclosures or for filing late. Many of these people seem to be average citizens who volunteer time on government boards, according to a report by the Miami Herald.
The violations date to 2000 closing in on the 20-year statute of limitations for collecting the fines. At least one person on that list is deceased. It was not immediately known what two collection agencies were hired by the Ethics Commission.
Filing financial disclosure forms is required under Florida law. Public servants actually must submit the forms each year. The two-page disclosures list net worth, income sources, real estate holdings and debts. The forms have long been controversial for politicians.
Gov. Rick Scott, during the last election cycle, was sued by an opponent who claimed the governor hid $200 million in assets from his financial disclosures. Hialeah, Fla. Mayor Carlos Hernandez faces a $1,500 fine over his disclosure for not listing interest he made on a loan to a Ponzi schemer. Financial disclosures also recently helped end a congressional run by Justin Sternad in a Miami-Dade County case that ended with a federal criminal trial.