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Deadline Looms for Financial Disclosure Forms

Tonight is the deadline for Florida’s elected leaders and government employees to file financial disclosure forms for 2011. The forms were due two months ago, but many late filers are taking advantage of the grace period.

More than 1,200  state officials still haven’t filed their disclosure forms. The fine for missing the deadline is $25 dollars a day. The fine is capped at $1,500.

Dan Krassner is executive director of Integrity Florida, a government watchdog group.

“We need to allow the ethics commission to garnish wages or put liens on property because the ethics commission is having trouble collecting those fines”, says Krassner.

He says the commission spent $20,000 in taxpayer funds to notify officials who missed the July 1st deadline.

Florida voters approved an amendment in 1976 designed to make sure state officials are serving the public and not their own personal interests.

“Every year, more than 37,000 officials – government employees, appointed officials, even school principals – file their private financial interests so we can take a look at that and hold them accountable”, says Krassner.

He says officials owe more than $100,000 dollars in late fees. And since the ethics commission has no real power to collect the money, more than a million dollars in fines has been written off over the years.