Democratic Attorney General candidate Dan Gelber today proposed the creation of a Public Corruption Strike Force in an effort to reign in politicians who violate the public trust in the state that the FBI has deemed the national leader in corruption.
In an article titled “Cleaning Up Tallahassee” and published by The Tampa Tribune, state Sen. Gelber writes that part of the problem lies in the small state and federal prosecutor presence in Tallahassee, comparing the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida (which has over 220 prosecutors) to the North Florida office, which has only 30 full-time assistants U.S. attorneys:
While the state attorney general is located in Tallahassee, he has limited jurisdiction beyond violations of Florida Sunshine and public record laws. That is why I have recommended assembling a Public Corruption Strike Force in Tallahassee to scrutinize state government operations. The notion would be to put together prosecutors and investigators from the state and federal government to attack public corruption full time – each handling matters related to their areas of statutory jurisdiction.
Floridians have lost a good measure of faith in their state government. And it is understandable, with indictments coming out of Tallahassee and a general belief that special-interest money has overwhelmed the core mission of state government. I don’t believe a corruption strike force will solve all these problems – in fact, too much of what is sleazy about state government is not even illegal. However, I do believe a dedicated force of prosecutors and investigators can do a lot to change the culture of corruption that seems to define state government.
“Floridians are really tired of the overwhelming influence of special interests, the overwhelming influence of money,” Gelber told the Miami Herald. “They read about back-room deals that stink to high heaven, and they wonder why nothing ever happens to them.” He added that the team “would have plenty of work to do. And it would result in a change in the behavior of state government.”