Weatherford signals support for auditing lobbying compensation reports

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Seconding a proposed initiative suggested by Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford said on Friday that he also supports the need for auditing the compensation reports submitted by state lobbyists.

Earlier this week, Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel reported that Gaetz asked the Senate’s general counsel to work with the House to determine how to kick-start the audits.

It would appear Weatherford has some suggestions.

“I think it’s critical as we move forward with implementing the law that we create a process that is both transparent and fair,” said Weatherford. “We need to make sure that the audits are truly random and that no politician can go after a lobbyist they don’t like – you know, like the IRS operates.  We also need to set out clear guidelines on how we expect compensation to be reported.”

Gaetz said, according to Deslatte, that the main holdup may be whether the Legislature has budget authority to begin the audits, or whether it would have to wait until the next fiscal year to launch them.

Weatherford said he’s not surprised President Gaetz is bringing up the issue since, as Deslatte reported, lobbyists have enjoyed little scrutiny in reporting what they’re paid to ply their trade with lawmakers and governors since a law was enacted seven years ago requiring the public disclosure.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Don Gaetz would push for auditing of lobbyist reports,” said Weatherford. “He has been a leader on ethic’s issues and this is certainly consistent with his efforts.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.