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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Florida Legislatures criminal conflict of interest or where are the ethics?

From Scathing Purple Musings, by Bob Sykes

Did Rep. Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah) know something that everyone else didn’t yesterday?
On at least three occasions during yesterday’s house subcommittee  he deflected colleagues questions about his charter school expansion bill with references to a “task force” that was  working on details. Diaz references to this task force in queries about lease agreements and the proposed state standard contracts for charter schools puzzled many observers. At the time of this post, Scathing Purple Musings has yet to learn which task force Diaz was referring.
Yesterday’s House Education Appropriations hearing was the most impressive charter  school conflict of interest to date.  Rep. Erik Fresen, whose sister is vice president of Academica Charter Schools , presided over a hearing that an employee of Academica in Diaz was sponsoring a bill which benefits Academica.

Fresen clearly attempted to suppress  questioning of Diaz during the hearing, After a question from Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) Fresen asked that committee members to limit their questions to “fiscal” issues as the bill would be moving on to the full Education Committee. Jones politely responded to Fresen that she doesn’t have a seat on that committee. When Jones began her questions again,  Diaz began playing his “task force” card.
Maybe both Fresen and Diaz knew they weren’t going to get those standard contracts that charter schools wanted anyhow. Miami Herald reporter Kathleen McGrory reports that republicans in the Florida Senate feel differently.
At any rate, how long will Floridians accept such questions ethical clashes? Why didn’t Fresen recuse himself and why is it ok for Diaz to sponsor a bill which benefits his own employer who pays him $100,000?

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