Readers Sound off; Are Laws Needed on Conflicts of Interest?

Article excerpt

Florida Sen. John Thrasher has not had much luck getting several bills involving ethics through the Florida Legislature in the last two years.

So the question arises: Are the legislators simply reflecting the apathy of their constituents?

Not if our Email Interactive Group is any indication.

Should the Legislature pass laws that ban conflicts of interest, such as working for a state agency and voting on a bill that affects that agency, or voting a bill that benefits the individual legislator?

Such proposals have gone nowhere. Hear no evil, see no evil.

More examples of the reader responses can be found on our Opinion Page Blog: tinyurl.com/3cqbkx9.

WHO MAKES THE RULES?

The problem with ethics is who gets to decide them?

Sadly you would think that our elected officials would know what a conflict of interest is, but they act like it is no big issue.

If they are voting on something that directly benefits them, their businessaor their family, they should immediately recuse themselves.

Michael Sigler, Jacksonville

SOME WILL LOOK FOR ANGLES

I don't give a hoot about the ethics bill or any other attempt at passing specific laws to govern human behavior. I spent 40 years in the Marine Corps, nine of those years in Washington.

It's been my experience that if someone wants to get away with something bad enough, they will find a way to do it.

Yes, we need laws, penalties, lawyers and judges, but when it comes to critical jobs, more time should be spent on finding people who can be trusted.

Even with the right people in a job, supervision is required. But pages of rule books always seemed futile to me.

John Cummings, Jacksonville

LIKE BATHING CATS

Let me begin by saying you have a better chance of giving a cat a bath and not getting scratched than you do of the Florida Legislature passing an ethics bill.

These folks are not going to do anything that would stop them from (a) enriching themselves when they leave the Legislature or (b) stopping their ability to influence legislation that benefits themselves, their political contributors or their cronies.

Some good ethics legislation would go a long way in beginning to restore the faith of the people in their leaders.

Let's hope Thrasher has the courage to push this bill out of committee, and let the members stand before us and show us they can pass an ethics bill or explain to us why they couldn't.

If they can't, I will remember that come November.

Sprague Owings, Yulee

DISCLOSURE IS KEY

I think that lawmakers should be able to vote if they disclose the facts that they have an interest in it. But I would like to think this information would be known before it came time to vote. …