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TAMPA BAY, Florida- Following a 10 News story on Florida's No. 1 national ranking for corruption, the watchdog group Integrity Florida has released its full report on Florida's ethics oversight problems.

The "Corruption Risk Report: Florida's Ethics Laws" identifies nearly 800 federal corruption convictions in Florida from 2000-2010. In 2012, Forbes magazine named corruption one of its factors when it placed Miami, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale among its "Most Miserable Cities."

According to Integrity Florida, Florida also received a failing grade for ethics enforcement agencies on the Florida Corruption Risk Report Card released in 2012 by State Integrity Investigation.

Intergrity Florida, a non-partisan group, made several recommendationsthat would "advance government ethics in Florida and the public's overall confidence in state and local government if adopted by the Florida Legislature":

  1. Self-initiate investigations: As the state ethics law enforcement agency, the Florida Commission on Ethics should be granted the authority to begin its own investigations.
  2. Launch a report corruption hotline: Report corruption hotline to be managed either by the Florida Attorney General or the Florida Commission on Ethics.
  3. Expand the ethics code to follow the money: Appropriate aspects of Florida's state ethics code should apply to all who touch public money, including vendors.
  4. Require top officials to disclose major transactions: Require all cabinet officials, state legislators, state agency heads and local elected officials to disclose details of all major financial transactions over $1,000 within the previous year, including stock trades, property transactions and changes in business ownership.
  5. Create an online filing system: Financial disclosure forms should be filed electronically and made publicly available online in a searchable, updatable and downloadable format.

The group also made recommendations to theFlorida Legislature, that has resisted any ethics reforms in recent years:

  1. Raise the standard for awarding attorney's fees against complainants.
  2. Change the burden of proving a violation from "clear and convincing evidence" to a "preponderance of the evidence".
  3. Require ethics training for public officials, government vendors and lobbyists.
  4. Increase penalties for ethics law violations.
  5. Improve collections process for fines owed due to ethics law violations.
  6. Post all core Ethics Commission documents into an online, searchable database.
  7. Build an online, searchable database of financial disclosure information.
  8. Require annual audit of a random sample of financial disclosure forms.

While Florida leaders may have neglected the ethics reform issue, you can report public corruption to the FBI at 1-888-722-1225.

Details regarding the various types of public corruption investigated by the FBI can be found online here.

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebookor follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com.

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