Online Sunshine Logo
Official Internet Site of the Florida Legislature
June 28, 2022
Text: 'NEW Advanced Legislative Search'
Interpreter Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Go to MyFlorida House
Go to MyFlorida House
Select Year:  
The Florida Statutes

The 2021 Florida Statutes

Title IV
EXECUTIVE BRANCH
Chapter 16
ATTORNEY GENERAL
View Entire Chapter
F.S. 16.715
16.715 Florida Gaming Control Commission standards of conduct; ex parte communications.
(1) STANDARDS OF CONDUCT.
(a) In addition to the provisions of part III of chapter 112, which are applicable to commissioners on and employees with the Florida Gaming Control Commission by virtue of their being public officers and public employees, the conduct of commissioners and employees shall be governed by the standards of conduct provided in this subsection. Nothing shall prohibit the standards of conduct from being more restrictive than part III of chapter 112. Further, this subsection may not be construed to contravene the restrictions of part III of chapter 112. In the event of a conflict between this subsection and part III of chapter 112, the more restrictive provision shall apply.
(b)1. A commissioner or employee of the commission may not accept anything from any business entity that, either directly or indirectly, owns or controls any person regulated by the commission or from any business entity that, either directly or indirectly, is an affiliate or subsidiary of any person regulated by the commission.
2. A commissioner or an employee may attend conferences, along with associated meals and events that are generally available to all conference participants, without payment of any fees in addition to the conference fee. Additionally, while attending a conference, a commissioner or an employee may attend meetings, meals, or events that are not sponsored, in whole or in part, by any representative of any person regulated by the commission and that are limited to commissioners or employees only, committee members, or speakers if the commissioner or employee is a member of a committee of the association of regulatory agencies which organized the conference or is a speaker at the conference. It is not a violation of this subparagraph for a commissioner or an employee to attend a conference for which conference participants who are employed by a person regulated by the commission have paid a higher conference registration fee than the commissioner or employee, or to attend a meal or event that is generally available to all conference participants without payment of any fees in addition to the conference fee and that is sponsored, in whole or in part, by a person regulated by the commission.
3. While employed, and for 2 years after service as a commissioner or for 2 years after employment with the commission, a commissioner or an employee may not accept any form of employment with or engage in any business activity with any business entity that, either directly or indirectly, owns or controls any person regulated by the commission; any person regulated by the commission; or any business entity that, either directly or indirectly, is an affiliate or subsidiary of any person regulated by the commission.
4. While employed, and for 2 years after service as a commissioner or for 2 years after employment with the commission, a commissioner, an employee, or a relative living in the same household as a commissioner or an employee may not have any financial interest, other than shares in a mutual fund, in any person regulated by the commission; in any business entity that, either directly or indirectly, owns or controls any person regulated by the commission; or in any business entity that, either directly or indirectly, is an affiliate or a subsidiary of any person regulated by the commission. If a commissioner, an employee, or a relative living in the same household as a commissioner or an employee acquires any financial interest prohibited by this subsection during the commissioner’s term of office or the employee’s employment with the commission as a result of events or actions beyond the commissioner’s, the employee’s, or the relative’s control, he or she shall immediately sell such financial interest. For the purposes of this subsection, the term “relative” has the same meaning as in s. 16.713(2)(b).
5. A commissioner or an employee may not accept anything from a party in a proceeding currently pending before the commission.
6. A commissioner may not serve as the representative of any political party or on any executive committee or other governing body of a political party; serve as an executive officer or employee of any political party, committee, organization, or association; receive remuneration for activities on behalf of any candidate for public office; engage on behalf of any candidate for public office in the solicitation of votes or other activities on behalf of such candidacy; or become a candidate for election to any public office without first resigning from office.
7. A commissioner, during his or her term of office, may not make any public comment regarding the merits of any proceeding under ss. 120.569 and 120.57 currently pending before the commission.
8. A commissioner or an employee may not act in an unprofessional manner at any time during the performance of official duties.
9. A commissioner or an employee must avoid impropriety in all activities and must act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the commission.
10. A commissioner or an employee may not directly or indirectly, through staff or other means, solicit anything of value from any person regulated by the commission, or from any business entity that, whether directly or indirectly, is an affiliate or a subsidiary of any person regulated by the commission, or from any party appearing in a proceeding considered by the commission in the last 2 years.
11. A commissioner may not lobby the Governor or any agency of the state, members or employees of the Legislature, or any county or municipal government or governmental agency except to represent the commission in an official capacity.
(c) A commissioner or an employee of the commission must annually complete at least 4 hours of ethics training that addresses, at a minimum, s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution; the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees; and the public records and public meetings laws of this state. This requirement may be satisfied by completion of a continuing legal education class or other continuing professional education class, seminar, or presentation, if the required subjects are covered.
(d) The Commission on Ethics shall accept and investigate any alleged violations of this subsection pursuant to the procedures contained in ss. 112.322-112.3241. The Commission on Ethics shall provide the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives with a report of its findings and recommendations. The Governor is authorized to enforce the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Ethics, pursuant to part III of chapter 112. A commissioner or an employee of the commission may request an advisory opinion from the Commission on Ethics, pursuant to s. 112.322(3)(a), regarding the standards of conduct or prohibitions set forth in this section or s. 16.71.
(e)1. If, during the course of an investigation by the Commission on Ethics into an alleged violation of this subsection, allegations are made as to the identity of the person giving or providing the prohibited thing, that person must be given notice and an opportunity to participate in the investigation and relevant proceedings to present a defense.
2. If the Commission on Ethics determines that the person gave or provided a prohibited thing, the person may not appear before the commission or otherwise represent anyone before the commission for a period of 2 years.
(f) A commissioner, an employee of the commission, or a relative living in the same household as a commissioner or an employee may not place a wager in any facility licensed by the commission or any facility in the state operated by an Indian tribe that has a valid and active compact with the state.
(2) FORMER COMMISSIONERS AND EMPLOYEES.
(a) A commissioner, the executive director, and an employee of the commission may not personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the executive or legislative branch for a period of 2 years following the commissioner’s or executive director’s end of service or a period of 2 years following employment unless employed by another agency of state government.
(b) A commissioner may not, for the 2 years immediately following the date of resignation or termination from the commission:
1. Hold a permit or license issued under chapter 550, or a license issued under chapter 551 or chapter 849; be an officer, official, or employee of such permitholder or licensee; or be an ultimate equitable owner, as defined in s. 550.002(37), of such permitholder or licensee;
2. Accept employment by or compensation from a business entity that, directly or indirectly, owns or controls a person regulated by the commission; from a person regulated by the commission; from a business entity which, directly or indirectly, is an affiliate or subsidiary of a person regulated by the commission; or from a business entity or trade association that has been a party to a commission proceeding within the 2 years preceding the member’s resignation or termination of service on the commission; or
3. Be a bingo game operator or an employee of a bingo game operator.
(c) A person employed by the commission may not, for the 2 years immediately following the date of termination or resignation from employment with the commission:
1. Hold a permit or license issued under chapter 550, or a license issued under chapter 551 or chapter 849; be an officer, official, or employee of such permitholder or licensee; or be an ultimate equitable owner, as defined in s. 550.002(37), of such permitholder or licensee; or
2. Be a bingo game operator or an employee of a bingo game operator.
(d) Any person violating paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) shall be subject to the penalties for violations of standards of conduct for public officers, employees of agencies, and local government attorneys provided in s. 112.317 and a civil penalty of an amount equal to the compensation that the person receives for the prohibited conduct.
(3) EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS.
(a) As used in this section, the term “ex parte communication” means any communication that:
1. If it is a written or printed communication or is a communication in electronic form, is not served on all parties to a proceeding; or
2. If it is an oral communication, is made without adequate notice to the parties and without an opportunity for the parties to be present and heard.
(b) A commissioner may not initiate or consider ex parte communications concerning the merits, threat, or offer of reward in any proceeding that is currently pending before the commission. An individual may not discuss ex parte with a commissioner the merits, threat, or offer of reward regarding any issue in a proceeding that is pending before the commission. This paragraph does not apply to commission staff.
(c) If a commissioner knowingly receives an ex parte communication relative to a proceeding to which the commissioner is assigned, the commissioner must place on the record of the proceeding copies of all written communications received, all written responses to the communications, and a memorandum stating the substance of all oral communications received and all oral responses made, and shall give written notice to all parties to the communication that such matters have been placed on the record. Any party who desires to respond to an ex parte communication may do so. The response must be received by the commission within 10 days after receiving notice that the ex parte communication has been placed on the record. The commissioner may, if deemed by such commissioner to be necessary to eliminate the effect of an ex parte communication, withdraw from the proceeding, in which case the chair shall substitute another commissioner for the proceeding.
(d) Any individual who makes an ex parte communication shall submit to the commission a written statement describing the nature of such communication, to include the name of the person making the communication, the name of the commissioner or commissioners receiving the communication, copies of all written communications made, all written responses to such communications, and a memorandum stating the substance of all oral communications received and all oral responses made. The commission shall place on the record of a proceeding all such communications.
(e) Any commissioner who knowingly fails to place on the record any such communications in violation of this subsection within 15 days after the date of such communication is subject to removal and may be assessed a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000.
(f)1. It shall be the duty of the Commission on Ethics to receive and investigate sworn complaints of violations of this subsection pursuant to the procedures contained in ss. 112.322-112.3241.
2. If the Commission on Ethics finds that there has been a violation of this subsection by a commissioner, it shall provide the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives with a report of its findings and recommendations. The Governor is authorized to enforce the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Ethics, pursuant to part III of chapter 112, and to remove from office a commissioner who is found by the Commission on Ethics to have willfully and knowingly violated this subsection. The Governor shall remove from office a commissioner who is found by the Commission on Ethics to have willfully and knowingly violated this subsection after a previous finding by the Commission on Ethics that the commissioner willfully and knowingly violated this subsection in a separate matter.
3. If a commissioner fails or refuses to pay the Commission on Ethics any civil penalties assessed pursuant to this subsection, the Commission on Ethics may bring an action in any circuit court to enforce such penalty.
4. If, during the course of an investigation by the Commission on Ethics into an alleged violation of this subsection, allegations are made as to the identity of the person who participated in the ex parte communication, that person must be given notice and an opportunity to participate in the investigation and relevant proceedings to present a defense. If the Commission on Ethics determines that the person participated in the ex parte communication, the person may not appear before the commission or otherwise represent anyone before the commission for a period of 2 years.
History.s. 7, ch. 2021-269.