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New financial disclosure law leads to dozens of exits

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(The Center Square) – Dozens of city elected officials in Florida are quitting because of a new law, effective Monday, that imposes stricter personal financial disclosure requirements.

Among the most recent resignations were two commissioners in the city of Daytona Beach Shores. One commissioner, Mel Lindauer, who has served since 2016, called the requirements “an invasion of my privacy” and without purpose.

Under the previous state requirement, city officials had to submit Form 1 annually, listing the sources of their income but not the dollar amounts, Lindauer wrote in his resignation letter.

“That made sense because it could highlight any possible conflicts of interest,” the commissioner said.

Under the new requirements, officials will have to submit the more detailed Form 6 including the dollar amount of investments and personal assets, “which would then become a public record and would be made available to anyone who wants to see,” Lindauer wrote.

The requirement “serves no obvious governmental purpose and is something that I don’t care to do,” the commissioner added. “My heart is sad, and I’ll miss being part of this incredible team that works so well together to make life better here.”

Lindauer was the founder and CEO of a graphic arts company in the Philadelphia area before moving to Daytona Beach Shores in 2001, according to his official biography.

The Florida League of Cities opposed the legislation, spokeswoman Kelli Gemmer told The Center Square in an email.

“The bill would deter otherwise qualified individuals from seeking municipal office, particularly when most elected officials in Florida’s smaller municipalities serve with little or no salary,” she said.

The legislation also changed the disclosure rules for elected officials in the middle of their terms, Gemmer said.

“They decided to run for office under one set of rules and should’ve been allowed to complete their term before deciding whether to run again under the new rules,” she said.

Across the state, dozens of city elected officials have resigned, including three of the five city commissioners in North Palm Beach, according to media reports.

Most Florida elected officials were already under the Form 6 requirement, said state Sen. Jason Brodeur, R-Lake Mary, who sponsored legislation extending the requirement to city officials as well.

County commissions, school board members and state constitutional officers also complained about the Form 6 requirement.

“We’ve had no shortage of candidates for any of those positions,” Brodeur said in a statement. “Taxpayers deserve transparency. If a simple disclosure that hundreds of other elected officials already do makes someone quit, then voters should be glad.”

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