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Florida Senators Undergo Required Ethics Training

Florida Senators got some training in ethics Thursday. They gathered at the Capitol to brush up on the do’s and don’ts of their job. The training is required thanks to a law passed this year. Senators got a tutorial on topics ranging from disclosure obligations to public records requirements.Miami Republican Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla wanted to know what kind of communications should be kept.

“A text message – if you don’t need it and delete it, you have no obligation to try to find that somehow in your cell phone or what have you", Diaz de la Portilla said. "You get an email and you no longer need the contents of that email and delete it, same thing. It’s not archival so therefore, there is no obligation to keep that as a public record.”

That’s correct.

Senate General Counsel George Levesque says lawmakers should remember a few simple things.

“Our rules and our laws can be stated generally: one, behave ethically; two, avoid conflicts of interest; three, use the office for the public benefit, not personal gain”, Levesque said.

The Legislature passed a sweeping ethics reform bill last spring. It says lawmakers who leave office can’t lobby the Legislature for two years. It also strengthens the ban on gifts and outside jobs state officials can accept.