Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando and Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg filed legislation that imposes penalties for when legislators violate the Fair Districts provisions of the Florida Constitution. The bills, SB 6-C and HB 3C, would impose penalties up to $5,000 for any violation and require the Legislature to also consider either censure, reprimand or expulsion from the legislature as punishment.
The bill has been filed for the 2015 C Special Session which began Monday.
“I have heard inquiries from countless constituents as to why no penalty exists for violating the Fair Districts Amendments,” Soto said in a statement. “This bill gives assurances to the people that if legislators violate their pledge to uphold the Constitution, real penalties await them.” …
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the Legislature violated the constitution when it drew the congressional map by favoring incumbents and political parties in violation of the Fair Districts guidelines. It agreed with a lower court that said the process had been “infiltrated” by political operatives, making “a mockery” of the Legislature’s claims of transparency.
Legislative leaders then agreed to settle a second lawsuit against them for the Senate map and are in the second day of the special session to redo that proposal…
Former Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, was chairman of the redistricting committee when the maps were approved in 2012 and remains in the Senate until his term expires in 2016. He told the Herald/Times last week what he said under oath in court — that he did not violate the Fair Districts law by giving maps to political operatives.
“I didn’t give any maps to any Democrat or Republican political operatives, and I didn’t receive any maps from any Republican political operatives,” Gaetz said. “No political operative gave me maps and I didn’t give any political operative any maps.”
He said that testimony that showed that former House chief of staff Kirk Pepper, who now works today for former House Speaker Dean Cannon, delivered draft maps to political operatives and that was “improper.”