Florida Dems question integrity of state investigators

Press Release: State Representative Darren Soto (D-Orlando) and House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders (D-Key West) announced today their intent to file a bill to preserve the integrity of Florida’s investigatory state agencies.

Recently, the Attorney General’s special counsel on foreclosure fraud resigned and then, reportedly, accepted employment with an organization he had been investigating. Subsequently, two other attorneys in the office who were investigating the matter were terminated from their jobs.

The legislation would prevent employees at state agencies with investigatory or regulatory functions from working for any individual or organization that is the subject of a civil or criminal investigation or judicial proceeding during the time of the investigation. The bill would also prohibit the employee from working for the organization for two years after an investigation concludes.

“The Florida Investigation Integrity Act will close the revolving door that has put the credibility of our investigatory process in jeopardy,” said Representative Soto. “The state places a trust in people with the expectation that their intention is to best serve the state. This bill will help ensure that this expectation is realized.”
Leader Saunders, who intends to be the primary co-sponsor of the legislation, said: “It is imperative that the public regain trust and have confidence that state agencies are diligent in fighting fraud. I am proud to co-sponsor with Representative Soto this important legislation.”

The legislation has been submitted to House bill drafting for consideration in the 2012 legislative session that convenes in January. The bill, which is expected to be labeled The Florida Investigation Integrity Act, has not yet been assigned a number nor formally filed.

Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) has expressed interest in filing a companion bill in the Florida Senate.