Usually, we're skeptical when a campaigning politician cites a breaking news story as a basis for new legislation, but we'll suspend that cynicism for the moment. State Sen. Dan Gelber, Democratic candidate for Florida attorney general, has seized on the recent corruption cases in Broward County to demand new laws against official misconduct.
This issue is right in Gelber's wheelhouse: He used to work in the public corruption unit of the federal prosecutor's office in Miami, meaning he worked on cases exactly like the ones those against Broward County and School Board officials. He knows the advantages that a federal prosecutor has in working with an "honest services" statute.
But now that he's a state lawmaker, Gelber also understands how much weaker Florida public corruption laws are. Here's the passage of that blog post that makes a muckraker's heart flutter:
[T]he problem isn't simply criminal wrongdoing. The truth is much of what is wrong isn't even illegal. We have a state government that operates largely in the shadows; a campaign finance system that gives special interests way too much power; and too many of our public institutions seem totally beholden to everyone but everyday citizens.
Here here! It is, by definition, reactionary. Florida lawmakers don't take advantage of this moment -- and remember that the scandals haven't been limited to Broward. Last year at this time, House Speaker Ray Sansom was indicted for corruption charges in which he allegedly steered the state budget to help a college where he was to receive a handsome salary.
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Quite simply, if there isn't enough outrage right now to justify strengthening anti-corruption laws, then when?