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Florida's Leading Republicans Offer Deafening Silence on Ethics Reform

Three of the state's most influential Republicans have "talked the talk" on ethics reform in Florida, but yesterday we asked them to "walk the walk." Make a public statement backing the effort by the Florida Commission on Ethics to free itself from the handcuffs that prevent it from making real progress in combating corruption.

Sen. George LeMieux's office: No response.

Senatorial candidate Marco Rubio's campaign: No response.

Gov. Charlie Crist: A statement so mind-numbingly vague and elliptical that I hesitate to call it a "statement." Behold it, after the jump.

First, my question to Crist's press secretary, Sterling Ivey:

Will the governor be doing anything to support the legislative recommendation by the Florida Commission on Ethics to enhance its ability to investigate political corruption?

If so, can you tell me what form that support will take?

If not, I'd be curious to hear his reasons.

And here's Ivey's sphinx-like rejoinder:
The Governor looks forward to reviewing the legislation during the upcoming regular session. The Governor has recently requested and received approval from the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a Statewide Grand Jury to investigate public corruption. We look forward to their work and recommendations the grand jury will offer.
OK, fine. Let's assume, just for argument's sake, that the grand jury Crist asked for is a legitimate, deliberate effort to find the roots of corruption in Florida rather than a stall tactic and campaign talking point that allows him to deflect questions about whether he's part of the corruption problem.

If that's so, then why wouldn't he leap at the prospect of more ethics reform? He's a little like the dinner guest who offers a compliment about the cuisine only to say "No!" a bit too loudly when the cook invites him to have seconds. If you really like the meat loaf, Charlie, I think you'd be asking for more meat loaf.

But hey, points for effort. Here's guessing that LeMieux and Rubio have way too many friends who stand to get in trouble the moment a wave of ethics reform gains momentum in Florida.

Then again, it's early. I still hold out hope that Rubio is saving the ethics issue for this spring's campaign crunch time, by which time it will have been brought fully to bloom by the multiple Broward County corruption cases. Maybe by that time, Rubio will have cleaned up his own backyard (*cough* Alan Mendelsohn *cough*) enough to feel confident throwing down the gauntlet on ethics.

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Thomas Francis

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