Justice Report Calls Florida
Second Most Corrupt State
By Matt Smith/Freelance Journalist
While Florida is predominantly Republican controlled, US Justice data validates that it is the 2nd worse state in the Union for public corruption by officials. Ex-Commissioner Hall decisively didn’t have a chance with that sort of attractive model. After the sentencing trial of one of our Ex-Lee County Commissioner and 19th District Congressman Radel drug arrest by federal investigators in 2013, there was a self imposed dictate to look into how deep the corruption in our state was from a statistical point of view using US Justice Department data. Lee County is not alone with the corruption in the state but certainly a very active contributor. Just recently State Senator Bonaquisto(REP) is under investigation by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for election violations originating from her desires to replace Congressman Radel in the 19th District. The allegations seem vague, but where there’s smoke there’s fire.
Other 2012/2014 state corruption investigations and indictments were:
ORLANDO, FL—United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces that U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven sentenced Ronald Clifton (age 42, South Daytona) to two years in federal prison for bribery and making false statements to FBI agents. At the time of the charged offenses, Clifton was the mayor and a councilman of the City of South Daytona.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Manuel L. Maroño, 41, the former mayor of the city of Sweetwater, and Jorge L. Forte, 41, a lobbyist, both of Miami, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud for their participation in a scheme to personally benefit through the use of Maroño’s position as mayor of Sweetwater. Sentencing has been scheduled for January 23, 2014, at 10:00 a.m.before U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch. At sentencing, Maroño and Forte face a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison.
CLARKSBURG, WV – Two Palm Bay, Florida, residents were sentenced to federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Irene M. Keeley on corruption charges
During the period of 2003 to 2012 data dictates that Nationwide 22,706 public officials (Federal & local government) were indicted and 20,264 prosecuted. With that record hanging over our great nation, its hypocritical at best to officially complaint about corruption in another government somewhere in the world.
Public corruption is defined as a breach of the public’s trust by government officials—whether elected, appointed, or under contract—and/or private individuals who use their public office for personal gain. It is a violation of federal law for any federal or state government official to ask for or receive anything of value for or because of any official act. Under federal law, the person who offers or pays a bribe is also guilty. These crimes are the result of deals sealed with private conversations, quick handshakes, and “under-the-table” money. Because of the secretive nature of bribes, such crimes are often difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove without public assistance
Some public officials have total disrespect for the people that voted them into public office and simply do not have fear of prosecution due to some historically light sentencing from Judges. It is suggested that this is in direct result of both the public and private relationship in which these officials were exposed with the Judges on a daily basis while they were performing their official duties. In the future it would put less pressure of the judges if a Grand Jury is convened. Some have considered the sentencing of Ms Hall light, but there are circumstances surrounding her level of cooperation that she gave Federal investigators concerning actions of others, therefore it really isn’t in the public’s best interest to be a self appointed “arm chair lawyer” and second guess the US Attorney Office. In retrospect it does seem odd that a US Congressman named Jessie Jackson Jr was indicted on the same charge as Mrs Hall’s but he received the maximum of 3 years in prison. After sentencing, an Online Poll was conducted by the Ft Myers News-Press and results were:
Do you think Tammy Hall’s 6 month prison sentence is too lenient?(2)
It is not suggested that there is a racial bias involved, but one must ask if this sentence is meeting the spirit of the law where it dictates “equal justice under the law”. Our public officials are paid very good in this state and its not acceptable that they use their office to make extra bucks on the good people of this State.
Florida attracts a variety of individuals and families. Most of them are welcomed in order for them to thrive and give back to our Community. Some people moving to the state are ”leeching carpetbaggers” and their only concerned with what they can take and not what they can give. In a small way most of these degenerates that are mistakenly elected to be our leaders can be publicly exposed to the electorate by simply performing a back ground check on all candidates when they file for public office. Just the existence of such a requirement would discourage anyone that had a precarious background not to file in the first place. Filing candidates could have the resulting information placed on the Supervisors of Election website for public information and more properly inform the voters.
Our own Governor Scott’s reputation was marred during his race for Governor.
Scott started what was first Columbia in the spring of 1987, purchasing two El Paso, Texas, hospitals. The company grew quickly by purchasing more hospitals. A hospital network created efficiencies. In 1994, Scott’s Columbia purchased Tennessee-headquartered HCA and its 100 hospitals, and merged the companies. When Scott resigned as CEO in 1997, Columbia/HCA had grown to more than 340 hospitals, 135 surgery centers and 550 home health locations in 37 states and two foreign countries, Scott’s campaign says. The company employed more than 285,000 people.
Scott resigned amid a federal Medicare fraud investigation that led to the company paying $1.7 billion in fines.
Council of 100 Governors on Nov. 18, 2010, a couple weeks after his victory, Scott said: ”We need to get a waiver to reform our Medicaid program and rework our health care benefits for state employees. Consumer directed care will lower the costs and increase the available choices. I have considerable experience in driving down health care costs while maintaining quality. The cost-saving measures we put into place at Columbia/HCA drove down national health care inflation from 18% to 8% in seven years.” I would agree with the Governor, it would be extremely easy to drive down costs if your swindle your way to that goal.
It is wrong,” then-Attorney General Janet Reno said in the release. “This investigation has been the largest multi-agency investigation of a health care provider ever undertaken by the U.S. and reflects our commitment to vigorously pursuing all types of health care fraud schemes.”
Florida’s then Chief Financial Officer during the Gubernatorial elections stated “If Scott proposes the same accountability measures for Florida government that he used at Columbia/HCA, we’ll have to back up the paddy wagon to the front door of the Capitol,” Sink spokeswoman Kyra Jennings said in a May 18, 2010, press release. “Florida simply can’t trust someone who was forced to resign as the head of a company that pled guilty to massive amounts of systematic fraud, including 14 felonies, leading to a historic $1.7 billion fine.”
With the ever increasing public corruption that is growing in the State, Tallahassee lawmakers should be challenged to proceed with a fair and cleansing amendment to the Elections Laws to allow some sort of filtering of any future candidates in order to maintain “Public Trust”.
(1) REPORT TO CONGRESS ON THE ACTIVITIES AND OPERATIONS OF THE PUBLIC INTEGRITY SECTION
(2) News Press ONLINE poll 1/15/14