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§112.3144 FS | FULL AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF FINANCIAL INTERESTS

(1)
(a) An officer who is required by s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution to file a full and public disclosure of his or her financial interests for any calendar or fiscal year, or any other person required by law to file a disclosure under this section, shall file that disclosure with the Florida Commission on Ethics. Additionally, an officer who is required to complete annual ethics training pursuant to s. 112.3142 must certify on his or her full and public disclosure of financial interests that he or she has completed the required training.
(b) A member of an expressway authority, transportation authority, bridge authority, toll authority, or expressway agency created pursuant to chapter 343, chapter 348, or any other general law shall comply with the applicable financial disclosure requirements of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution.
(c) Each member of the governing body of a large-hub commercial service airport, except for members required to comply with the financial disclosure requirements of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, shall comply with the financial disclosure requirements of s. 112.3145(3). For purposes of this paragraph, the term “large-hub commercial service airport” means a publicly owned airport that has at least 1 percent of the annual passenger boardings in the United States as reported by the Federal Aviation Administration.

(2) Beginning January 1, 2022, all disclosures filed with the commission must be filed electronically through an electronic filing system that is created and maintained by the commission as provided in s. 112.31446.
(3) A person who is required, pursuant to s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, to file a full and public disclosure of financial interests and who has filed a full and public disclosure of financial interests for any calendar or fiscal year is not required to file a statement of financial interests pursuant to s. 112.3145(2) and (3) for the same year or for any part thereof notwithstanding any requirement of this part. Until the electronic filing system required by subsection (2) is implemented, if an incumbent in an elective office has filed the full and public disclosure of financial interests to qualify for election to the same office or if a candidate for office holds another office subject to the annual filing requirement, the qualifying officer shall forward an electronic copy of the full and public disclosure of financial interests to the commission no later than July 1. The electronic copy of the full and public disclosure of financial interests satisfies the annual disclosure requirement of this section. A candidate who does not qualify until after the annual full and public disclosure of financial interests has been filed pursuant to this section shall file a copy of his or her disclosure with the officer before whom he or she qualifies.
(4) Beginning January 1, 2022, an incumbent in an elective office or a candidate holding another position subject to an annual filing requirement may submit a copy of the full and public disclosure of financial interests filed with the commission, or a verification or receipt of the filing, with the officer before whom he or she qualifies. A candidate not subject to an annual filing requirement does not file with the commission, but may complete and print a full and public disclosure of financial interests to file with the officer before whom he or she qualifies.
(5) For purposes of full and public disclosure under s. 8(a), Art. II of the State Constitution, the following items, if not held for investment purposes and if valued at over $1,000 in the aggregate, may be reported in a lump sum and identified as “household goods and personal effects”:
(a) Jewelry;
(b) Collections of stamps, guns, and numismatic properties;
(c) Art objects;
(d) Household equipment and furnishings;
(e) Clothing;
(f) Other household items; and
(g) Vehicles for personal use.

(6)
(a) With respect to reporting, assets valued in excess of $1,000 which the reporting individual holds jointly with another person, the amount reported shall be based on the reporting individual’s legal percentage of ownership in the property. However, assets that are held jointly, with right of survivorship, must be reported at 100 percent of the value of the asset. For purposes of this subsection, a reporting individual is deemed to own a percentage of a partnership which is equal to the reporting individual’s interest in the capital or equity of the partnership.
(b)
1. With respect to reporting liabilities valued in excess of $1,000 for which the reporting individual is jointly and severally liable, the amount reported shall be based on the reporting individual’s percentage of liability rather than the total amount of the liability. However, liability for a debt that is secured by property owned by the reporting individual but that is held jointly, with right of survivorship, must be reported at 100 percent of the total amount owed.
2. A separate section of the form shall be created to provide for the reporting of the amounts of joint and several liability of the reporting individual not otherwise reported in subparagraph 1.

(c) Each separate source and amount of income which exceeds $1,000 must be identified. Beginning January 1, 2022, a federal income tax return may not be used for purposes of reporting income, and the commission may not accept a federal income tax return or a copy thereof.

(7)
(a) Beginning January 1, 2022, a filer may not include in a filing to the commission a federal income tax return or a copy thereof; a social security number; a bank, mortgage, or brokerage account number; a debit, charge, or credit card number; a personal identification number; a taxpayer identification number. If a filer includes such information in his or her filing, the information may be made available as part of the official records of the commission available for public inspection and copying unless redaction is requested by the filer. The commission is not liable for the release of social security numbers or bank account, debit, charge, or credit card numbers included in a filing to the commission if the filer has not requested redaction of such information.
(b) The commission shall redact a filer’s social security number; bank account number; debit, charge, or credit card number; or any other personal or account information that is legally protected from disclosure under state or federal law upon written notification from the filer of its inadvertent inclusion. Such notice must specify the information inadvertently included and the specific section or sections of the disclosure in which it was included.
(c) The commission must conspicuously post a notice, in substantially the following form, in the instructions for the electronic filing system specifying that:
1. Any filer submitting information through the electronic filing system may not include a federal income tax return or a copy thereof; a social security number; a bank, mortgage, or brokerage account number; a debit, charge, or credit card number; a personal identification number; or a taxpayer identification number in any filing unless required by law.
2. Information submitted through the electronic filing system may be open to public inspection and copying.
3. Any filer has a right to request that the commission redact from his or her filing any social security number, bank account number, or debit, charge, or credit card number contained in the filing. Such request must be made in writing and delivered to the commission. The request must specify the information to be redacted and the specific section or sections of the disclosure in which it was included.


(8) Forms or fields of information for compliance with the full and public disclosure requirements of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution shall be prescribed by the commission. The commission shall give notice of disclosure deadlines and delinquencies and distribute forms in the following manner:
(a) Not later than May 1 of each year, the commission shall prepare a current list of the names, e-mail addresses, and physical addresses of and the offices held by every person required to file full and public disclosure annually by s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, or other state law. Each unit of government shall assist the commission in compiling the list by providing to the commission not later than February 1 of each year the name, e-mail address, physical address, and name of the office held by such person within the respective unit of government as of December 31 of the preceding year.
(b) Not later than June 1 of each year, the commission shall distribute a copy of the form prescribed for compliance with full and public disclosure and a notice of the filing deadline to each person on the list. Beginning January 1, 2022, no paper forms will be provided. The notice required under this paragraph and instructions for electronic submission must be delivered by e-mail.
(c) Not later than August 1 of each year, the commission shall determine which persons on the list have failed to file full and public disclosure and shall send delinquency notices to such persons. Each notice must state that a grace period is in effect until September 1 of the current year. Beginning January 1, 2022, the notice required under this paragraph must be delivered by e-mail and must be redelivered on a weekly basis by e-mail as long as a person remains delinquent.
(d) Disclosures must be received by the commission not later than 5 p.m. of the due date. However, any disclosure that is postmarked by the United States Postal Service by midnight of the due date is deemed to have been filed in a timely manner, and a certificate of mailing obtained from and dated by the United States Postal Service at the time of the mailing, or a receipt from an established courier company which bears a date on or before the due date, constitutes proof of mailing in a timely manner. Beginning January 1, 2022, upon request of the filer, the commission must provide verification to the filer that the commission has received the filed disclosure.
(e) Beginning January 1, 2022, a written declaration, as provided for under s. 92.525(2), accompanied by an electronic signature satisfies the requirement that the disclosure be sworn.
(f) Any person who is required to file full and public disclosure of financial interests and whose name is on the commission’s list, and to whom notice has been sent, but who fails to timely file is assessed a fine of $25 per day for each day late up to a maximum of $1,500; however this $1,500 limitation on automatic fines does not limit the civil penalty that may be imposed if the statement is filed more than 60 days after the deadline and a complaint is filed, as provided in s. 112.324. The commission must provide by rule the grounds for waiving the fine and the procedures by which each person whose name is on the list and who is determined to have not filed in a timely manner will be notified of assessed fines and may appeal. The rule must provide for and make specific the following:
1. The amount of the fine due is based upon the earliest of the following:
a. When a statement is actually received by the office.
b. When the statement is postmarked.
c. When the certificate of mailing is dated.
d. When the receipt from an established courier company is dated.

2. Upon receipt of the disclosure statement or upon accrual of the maximum penalty, whichever occurs first, the commission shall determine the amount of the fine which is due and shall notify the delinquent person. The notice must include an explanation of the appeal procedure under subparagraph 3. Such fine must be paid within 30 days after the notice of payment due is transmitted, unless appeal is made to the commission pursuant to subparagraph 3. The moneys shall be deposited into the General Revenue Fund.
3. Any reporting person may appeal or dispute a fine, based upon unusual circumstances surrounding the failure to file on the designated due date, and may request and is entitled to a hearing before the commission, which may waive the fine in whole or in part for good cause shown. Any such request must be in writing and received by the commission within 30 days after the notice of payment due is transmitted. In such a case, the reporting person must, within the 30-day period, notify the person designated to review the timeliness of reports in writing of his or her intention to bring the matter before the commission. For purposes of this subparagraph, “unusual circumstances” does not include the failure to monitor an e-mail account or failure to receive notice if the person has not notified the commission of a change in his or her e-mail address.

(g) Any person subject to the annual filing of full and public disclosure under s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, or other state law, whose name is not on the commission’s list of persons required to file full and public disclosure is not subject to the fines or penalties provided in this part for failure to file full and public disclosure in any year in which the omission occurred, but nevertheless is required to file the disclosure statement.
(h) The notification requirements and fines of this subsection do not apply to candidates or to the first filing required of any person appointed to elective constitutional office or other position required to file full and public disclosure, unless the person’s name is on the commission’s notification list and the person received notification from the commission. The appointing official shall notify such newly appointed person of the obligation to file full and public disclosure by July 1. The notification requirements and fines of this subsection do not apply to the final filing provided for in subsection (10).
(i) Notwithstanding any provision of chapter 120, any fine imposed under this subsection which is not waived by final order of the commission and which remains unpaid more than 60 days after the notice of payment due or more than 60 days after the commission renders a final order on the appeal must be submitted to the Department of Financial Services as a claim, debt, or other obligation owed to the state, and the department shall assign the collection of such fine to a collection agent as provided in s. 17.20.

(9) If a person holding public office or public employment fails or refuses to file a full and public disclosure of financial interests for any year in which the person received notice from the commission regarding the failure to file and has accrued the maximum automatic fine authorized under this section, regardless of whether the fine imposed was paid or collected, the commission shall initiate an investigation and conduct a public hearing without receipt of a complaint to determine whether the person’s failure to file is willful. Such investigation and hearing must be conducted in accordance with s. 112.324. Except as provided in s. 112.324(4), if the commission determines that the person willfully failed to file a full and public disclosure of financial interests, the commission shall enter an order recommending that the officer or employee be removed from his or her public office or public employment. The commission shall forward its recommendations as provided in s. 112.324.
(10) Each person required to file full and public disclosure of financial interests shall file a final disclosure statement within 60 days after leaving his or her public position for the period between January 1 of the year in which the person leaves and the last day of office or employment, unless within the 60-day period the person takes another public position requiring financial disclosure under s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, or is otherwise required to file full and public disclosure for the final disclosure period. The head of the agency of each person required to file full and public disclosure for the final disclosure period shall notify such persons of their obligation to file the final disclosure and may designate a person to be responsible for the notification requirements of this subsection.
(11)
(a) The commission shall treat an amendment to a full and public disclosure of financial interests which is filed before September 1 of the year in which the disclosure is due as part of the original filing, regardless of whether a complaint has been filed. If a complaint alleges only an immaterial, inconsequential, or de minimis error or omission, the commission may not take any action on the complaint other than notifying the filer of the complaint. The filer must be given 30 days to file an amendment to the full and public disclosure of financial interests correcting any errors. If the filer does not file an amendment to the full and public disclosure of financial interests within 30 days after the commission sends notice of the complaint, the commission may continue with proceedings pursuant to s. 112.324.
(b) For purposes of the final full and public disclosure of financial interests, the commission shall treat an amendment to a new final full and public disclosure of financial interests as part of the original filing if filed within 60 days after the original filing, regardless of whether a complaint has been filed. If, more than 60 days after a final full and public disclosure of financial interests is filed, a complaint is filed alleging a complete omission of any information required to be disclosed by this section, the commission may immediately follow the complaint procedures in s. 112.324. However, if the complaint alleges an immaterial, inconsequential, or de minimis error or omission, the commission may not take any action on the complaint, other than notifying the filer of the complaint. The filer must be given 30 days to file an amendment to the new final full and public disclosure of financial interests correcting any errors. If the filer does not file an amendment to the new final full and public disclosure of financial interests within 30 days after the commission sends notice of the complaint, the commission may continue with proceedings pursuant to s. 112.324.
(c) For purposes of this section, an error or omission is immaterial, inconsequential, or de minimis if the original filing provided sufficient information for the public to identify potential conflicts of interest. However, failure to certify completion of annual ethics training required under s. 112.3142 does not constitute an immaterial, inconsequential, or de minimis error or omission.

(12)
(a) An individual required to file a disclosure pursuant to this section may have the disclosure prepared by an attorney in good standing with The Florida Bar or by a certified public accountant licensed under chapter 473. After preparing a disclosure form, the attorney or certified public accountant must sign the form indicating that he or she prepared the form in accordance with this section and the instructions for completing and filing the disclosure forms and that, upon his or her reasonable knowledge and belief, the disclosure is true and correct. If a complaint is filed alleging a failure to disclose information required by this section, the commission shall determine whether the information was disclosed to the attorney or certified public accountant. The failure of the attorney or certified public accountant to accurately transcribe information provided by the individual required to file is not a violation of this section.
(b) An elected officer or candidate who chooses to use an attorney or a certified public accountant to prepare his or her disclosure may pay for the services of the attorney or certified public accountant from funds in an office account created pursuant to s. 106.141 or, during a year that the individual qualifies for election to public office, the candidate’s campaign depository pursuant to s. 106.021.

(13) The commission shall adopt rules and forms specifying how a person who is required to file full and public disclosure of financial interests may amend his or her disclosure statement to report information that was not included on the form as originally filed. If the amendment is the subject of a complaint filed under this part, the commission and the proper disciplinary official or body shall consider as a mitigating factor when considering appropriate disciplinary action the fact that the amendment was filed before any complaint or other inquiry or proceeding, while recognizing that the public was deprived of access to information to which it was entitled.
(14) The provisions of this section constitute a revision to the schedule included in s. 8(i), Art. II of the State Constitution.
History - (s. 1, ch. 82-98; s. 3, ch. 88-358; s. 19, ch. 91-45; s. 4, ch. 94-277; s. 1409, ch. 95-147; s. 2, ch. 2000-243; s. 30, ch. 2000-258; s. 127, ch. 2003-261; s. 3, ch. 2006-275; s. 7, ch. 2013-36; s. 3, ch. 2014-183; s. 3, ch. 2019-97; s. 2, ch. 2019-169; s. 2, ch. 2020-167.)

§112.31445 FS | ELECTRONIC FILING SYSTEM; FULL AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF FINANCIAL INTERESTS

(1) As used in this section, the term “electronic filing system” means an Internet system for recording and reporting full and public disclosure of financial interests or any other form that is required pursuant to s. 112.3144.
(2) Beginning with the 2012 filing year, all full and public disclosures of financial interests filed with the commission pursuant to s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution or s. 112.3144 must be scanned and made publicly available by the commission through a searchable Internet database.
(3) By December 1, 2015, the commission shall submit a proposal to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives for a mandatory electronic filing system. The proposal must, at a minimum:
(a) Provide for access through the Internet.
(b) Establish a procedure to make filings available in a searchable format that is accessible by an individual using standard web-browsing software.
(c) Provide for direct completion of the full and public disclosure of financial interests forms as well as upload such information using software approved by the commission.
(d) Provide a secure method that prevents unauthorized access to electronic filing system functions.
(e) Provide a method for an attorney or certified public accountant licensed in this state to sign the disclosure form to indicate that he or she prepared the form in accordance with s. 112.3144 and the instructions for completing and filing the disclosure form and that, upon his or her reasonable knowledge and belief, the form is true and correct.
(f) Address whether additional statutory or rulemaking authority is necessary for implementation of the system, and must include, at a minimum, the following elements:
alternate filing procedures to be used in the event that the commission’s electronic filing system is inoperable,
issuance of an electronic receipt via electronic mail indicating and verifying to the individual who submitted the full and public disclosure of financial interests form that the form has been filed, and
a determination of the feasibility and necessity of including statements of financial interests filed pursuant to s. 112.3145 in the proposed system.


History - (s. 8, ch. 2013-36.)

§112.31446 FS | ELECTRONIC FILING SYSTEM FOR FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Disclosure of financial interests” or “disclosure” includes a full and public disclosure of financial interests and a final full and public disclosure of financial interests, and any amendments thereto.
(b) “Electronic filing system” means an Internet-based system for receiving, reporting, and publishing disclosures of financial interests, statements of financial interests, or any other form that is required under s. 112.3144 or s. 112.3145.
(c) “Statement of financial interests” or “statement” includes a statement of financial interests and a final statement of financial interests, and any amendments thereto.

(2) By January 1, 2022, the commission shall procure and test an electronic filing system. At a minimum, the electronic filing system must:
(a) Provide access through the Internet for the completion and submission of disclosures of financial interests, statements of financial interests, or any other form that is required under s. 112.3144 or s. 112.3145.
(b) Make filings available in a searchable format that is accessible by an individual using standard Internet-browsing software.
(c) Issue a verification or receipt that the commission has received the submitted disclosure or statement.
(d) Provide security that prevents unauthorized access to the electronic filing system’s functions or data.
(e) Provide a method for an attorney or a certified public accountant licensed in this state to complete the disclosure or statement and certify that he or she prepared the disclosure or statement in accordance with s. 112.3144 or s. 112.3145 and the instructions for completing the disclosure or statement, and that, upon his or her reasonable knowledge and belief, the information on the disclosure or statement is true and correct.

(3) Each unit of government shall provide an e-mail address to any of its officers, members, or employees who must file a disclosure of financial interests or a statement of financial interests, and provide such e-mail addresses to the commission by February 1 of each year. A person required to file a disclosure of financial interests or statement of financial interests must inform the commission immediately of any change in his or her e-mail address.
(4) The commission shall provide each person required to file a disclosure of financial interests or statement of financial interests a secure log-in to the electronic filing system. Such person is responsible for protecting his or her secure log-in credentials from disclosure and is responsible for all filings submitted to the commission with such credentials, unless the person has notified the commission that his or her credentials have been compromised.
(5) If the electronic filing system is inoperable which prevents timely submission of disclosures of financial interests or statements of financial interests, as determined by the commission chair, or if the Governor has declared a state of emergency and a person required to submit a disclosure or statement resides in an area included in the state of emergency which prevents the submission of the disclosure or statement electronically, the commission chair must extend the filing deadline for submission of the disclosures or statements by the same period of time for which the system was inoperable or by 90 days for persons who reside in an area included in a state of emergency, whichever is applicable.
(6)
(a) All secure login credentials held by the commission for the purpose of allowing access to the electronic filing system are exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
(b) Information entered in the electronic filing system for purposes of financial disclosure is exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. Information entered in the electronic filing system is no longer exempt once the disclosure of financial interests or statement of financial interests is submitted to the commission or, in the case of a candidate, filed with a qualifying officer, whichever occurs first.
(c) This subsection is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 2024, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.

History - (s. 1, ch. 2019-40; s. 1, ch. 2019-97.)

§112.3145 FS | DISCLOSURE OF FINANCIAL INTERESTS AND CLIENTS REPRESENTED BEFORE AGENCIES

(1) For purposes of this section, unless the context otherwise requires, the term:
(a) “Local officer” means:
1. Every person who is elected to office in any political subdivision of the state, and every person who is appointed to fill a vacancy for an unexpired term in such an elective office.
2. Any appointed member of any of the following boards, councils, commissions, authorities, or other bodies of any county, municipality, school district, independent special district, or other political subdivision of the state:
a. The governing body of the political subdivision, if appointed;
b. A community college or junior college district board of trustees;
c. A board having the power to enforce local code provisions;
d. A planning or zoning board, board of adjustment, board of appeals, community redevelopment agency board, or other board having the power to recommend, create, or modify land planning or zoning within the political subdivision, except for citizen advisory committees, technical coordinating committees, and such other groups who only have the power to make recommendations to planning or zoning boards;
e. A pension board or retirement board having the power to invest pension or retirement funds or the power to make a binding determination of one’s entitlement to or amount of a pension or other retirement benefit; or
f. Any other appointed member of a local government board who is required to file a statement of financial interests by the appointing authority or the enabling legislation, ordinance, or resolution creating the board.

3. Any person holding one or more of the following positions: mayor; county or city manager; chief administrative employee of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision; county or municipal attorney; finance director of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision; chief county or municipal building code inspector; county or municipal water resources coordinator; county or municipal pollution control director; county or municipal environmental control director; county or municipal administrator, with power to grant or deny a land development permit; chief of police; fire chief; municipal clerk; district school superintendent; community college president; district medical examiner; or purchasing agent having the authority to make any purchase exceeding the threshold amount provided for in s. 287.017 for CATEGORY TWO, on behalf of any political subdivision of the state or any entity thereof.

(b) “Specified state employee” means:
1. Public counsel created by chapter 350, an assistant state attorney, an assistant public defender, a criminal conflict and civil regional counsel, an assistant criminal conflict and civil regional counsel, a full-time state employee who serves as counsel or assistant counsel to any state agency, an administrative law judge, or a hearing officer.
2. Any person employed in the office of the Governor or in the office of any member of the Cabinet if that person is exempt from the Career Service System, except persons employed in clerical, secretarial, or similar positions.
3. The State Surgeon General or each appointed secretary, assistant secretary, deputy secretary, executive director, assistant executive director, or deputy executive director of each state department, commission, board, or council; unless otherwise provided, the division director, assistant division director, deputy director, and bureau chief of any state department or division; or any person having the power normally conferred upon such persons, by whatever title.
4. The superintendent or institute director of a state mental health institute established for training and research in the mental health field or the warden or director of any major state institution or facility established for corrections, training, treatment, or rehabilitation.
5. Business managers, purchasing agents having the power to make any purchase exceeding the threshold amount provided for in s. 287.017 for CATEGORY TWO, finance and accounting directors, personnel officers, or grants coordinators for any state agency.
6. Any person, other than a legislative assistant exempted by the presiding officer of the house by which the legislative assistant is employed, who is employed in the legislative branch of government, except persons employed in maintenance, clerical, secretarial, or similar positions.
7. Each employee of the Commission on Ethics.

(c) “State officer” means:
1. Any elected public officer, excluding those elected to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, not covered elsewhere in this part and any person who is appointed to fill a vacancy for an unexpired term in such an elective office.
2. An appointed member of each board, commission, authority, or council having statewide jurisdiction, excluding a member of an advisory body.
3. A member of the Board of Governors of the State University System or a state university board of trustees, the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors of the State University System, and the president of a state university.
4. A member of the judicial nominating commission for any district court of appeal or any judicial circuit.


(2)
(a) A person seeking nomination or election to a state or local elective office shall file a statement of financial interests together with, and at the same time he or she files, qualifying papers. When a candidate has qualified for office prior to the deadline to file an annual statement of financial interests, the statement of financial interests that is filed with the candidate’s qualifying papers shall be deemed to satisfy the annual disclosure requirement of this section. The qualifying officer must record that the statement of financial interests was timely filed. However, if a candidate does not qualify until after the annual statement of financial interests has been filed, the candidate may file a copy of his or her statement with the qualifying officer.
(b) Each state or local officer and each specified state employee shall file a statement of financial interests no later than July 1 of each year. Each state officer, local officer, and specified state employee shall file a final statement of financial interests within 60 days after leaving his or her public position for the period between January 1 of the year in which the person leaves and the last day of office or employment, unless within the 60-day period the person takes another public position requiring financial disclosure under this section or s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution or otherwise is required to file full and public disclosure or a statement of financial interests for the final disclosure period. Each state or local officer who is appointed and each specified state employee who is employed shall file a statement of financial interests within 30 days from the date of appointment or, in the case of a specified state employee, from the date on which the employment begins, except that any person whose appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate shall file prior to confirmation hearings or within 30 days from the date of appointment, whichever comes first.
(c) Beginning January 1, 2023, an incumbent in an elective office or a candidate holding another position subject to an annual filing requirement may submit a copy of the statement of financial interests filed with the commission, or a verification or receipt of the filing, with the officer before whom he or she qualifies. A candidate not subject to an annual filing requirement does not file with the commission, but may complete and print a statement of financial interests to file with the officer before whom he or she qualifies.
(d) State officers and specified state employees shall file their statements of financial interests with the commission. Local officers shall file their statements of financial interests with the supervisor of elections of the county in which they permanently reside. Local officers who do not permanently reside in any county in the state shall file their statements of financial interests with the supervisor of elections of the county in which their agency maintains its headquarters. Persons seeking to qualify as candidates for local public office shall file their statements of financial interests with the officer before whom they qualify.
(e) Beginning January 1, 2023, all statements filed with the commission must be filed electronically through an electronic filing system that is created and maintained by the commission as provided in s. 112.31446.

(3) The statement of financial interests for state officers, specified state employees, local officers, and persons seeking to qualify as candidates for state or local office shall be filed even if the reporting person holds no financial interests requiring disclosure in a particular category, in which case that section of the statement shall be marked “not applicable.” Otherwise, the statement of financial interests must include the information under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b). The reporting person must indicate on the statement whether he or she is using the reporting method under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b). Beginning January 1, 2023, only the reporting method specified under paragraph (b) may be used.
(a)
1. All sources of income in excess of 5 percent of the gross income received during the disclosure period by the person in his or her own name or by any other person for his or her use or benefit, excluding public salary. However, this shall not be construed to require disclosure of a business partner’s sources of income. The person reporting shall list such sources in descending order of value with the largest source first;
2. All sources of income to a business entity in excess of 10 percent of the gross income of a business entity in which the reporting person held a material interest and from which he or she received an amount which was in excess of 10 percent of his or her gross income during the disclosure period and which exceeds $1,500. The period for computing the gross income of the business entity is the fiscal year of the business entity which ended on, or immediately prior to, the end of the disclosure period of the person reporting;
3. The location or description of real property in this state, except for residences and vacation homes, owned directly or indirectly by the person reporting, when such person owns in excess of 5 percent of the value of such real property, and a general description of any intangible personal property worth in excess of 10 percent of such person’s total assets. For the purposes of this paragraph, indirect ownership does not include ownership by a spouse or minor child; and
4. Every individual liability that equals more than the reporting person’s net worth; or

(b)
1. All sources of gross income in excess of $2,500 received during the disclosure period by the person in his or her own name or by any other person for his or her use or benefit, excluding public salary. However, this shall not be construed to require disclosure of a business partner’s sources of income. The person reporting shall list such sources in descending order of value with the largest source first;
2. All sources of income to a business entity in excess of 10 percent of the gross income of a business entity in which the reporting person held a material interest and from which he or she received gross income exceeding $5,000 during the disclosure period. The period for computing the gross income of the business entity is the fiscal year of the business entity which ended on, or immediately prior to, the end of the disclosure period of the person reporting;
3. The location or description of real property in this state, except for residence and vacation homes, owned directly or indirectly by the person reporting, when such person owns in excess of 5 percent of the value of such real property, and a general description of any intangible personal property worth in excess of $10,000. For the purpose of this paragraph, indirect ownership does not include ownership by a spouse or minor child; and
4. Every liability in excess of $10,000.


(4)
(a) Beginning January 1, 2023, a filer may not include in a filing to the commission a federal income tax return or a copy of thereof; a social security number; a bank, mortgage, or brokerage account number; a debit, charge, or credit card number; a personal identification number; a taxpayer identification number. If a filer includes such information in his or her filing, the information may be made available as part of the official records of the commission available for public inspection and copying unless redaction is requested by the filer. The commission is not liable for the release of social security numbers, bank account numbers, or debit, charge, or credit card numbers included in a filing to the commission if the filer has not requested redaction of the information.
(b) The commission shall redact a filer’s social security number; bank account number; debit, charge, or credit card number; or any other personal or account information that is legally protected from disclosure under state or federal law upon written notification from the filer of its inadvertent inclusion. Such notice must specify the information inadvertently included and the specific section or sections of the statement in which it was included.
(c) The commission must conspicuously post a notice, in substantially the following form, in the instructions for the electronic filing system specifying that:
1. Any filer submitting information through the electronic filing system may not include a federal income tax return or a copy thereof; a social security number; a bank, mortgage, or brokerage account number; a debit, charge, or credit card number; a personal identification number; or a taxpayer identification number in any filing unless required by law.
2. Information submitted through the electronic filing system may be open to public inspection and copying.
3. Any filer has a right to request that the commission redact from his or her filing any social security number, bank account number, or debit, charge, or credit card number contained in the filing. Such request must be made in writing and delivered to the commission. The request must specify the information to be redacted and the specific section or sections of the disclosure in which it was included.


(5) An officer who is required to complete annual ethics training pursuant to s. 112.3142 must certify on his or her statement of financial interests that he or she has completed the required training.
(6) Each elected constitutional officer, state officer, local officer, and specified state employee shall file a quarterly report of the names of clients represented for a fee or commission, except for appearances in ministerial matters, before agencies at his or her level of government. For the purposes of this part, agencies of government shall be classified as state-level agencies or agencies below state level. Each local officer shall file such report with the supervisor of elections of the county in which the officer is principally employed or is a resident. Each state officer, elected constitutional officer, and specified state employee shall file such report with the commission. The report shall be filed only when a reportable representation is made during the calendar quarter and shall be filed no later than the last day of each calendar quarter, for the previous calendar quarter. Representation before any agency shall be deemed to include representation by such officer or specified state employee or by any partner or associate of the professional firm of which he or she is a member and of which he or she has actual knowledge. For the purposes of this subsection, the term “representation before any agency” does not include appearances before any court or the Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims or judges of compensation claims or representations on behalf of one’s agency in one’s official capacity. Such term does not include the preparation and filing of forms and applications merely for the purpose of obtaining or transferring a license based on a quota or a franchise of such agency or a license or operation permit to engage in a profession, business, or occupation, so long as the issuance or granting of such license, permit, or transfer does not require substantial discretion, a variance, a special consideration, or a certificate of public convenience and necessity.
(7) Each elected constitutional officer and each candidate for such office, any other public officer required pursuant to s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution to file a full and public disclosure of his or her financial interests, and each state officer, local officer, specified state employee, and candidate for elective public office who is or was during the disclosure period an officer, director, partner, proprietor, or agent, other than a resident agent solely for service of process, of, or owns or owned during the disclosure period a material interest in, any business entity which is granted a privilege to operate in this state shall disclose such facts as a part of the disclosure form filed pursuant to s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution or this section, as applicable. The statement shall give the name, address, and principal business activity of the business entity and shall state the position held with such business entity or the fact that a material interest is owned and the nature of that interest.
(8) Forms for compliance with the disclosure requirements of this section and a current list of persons subject to disclosure shall be created by the commission and provided to each supervisor of elections. The commission and each supervisor of elections shall give notice of disclosure deadlines and delinquencies and distribute forms in the following manner:
(a)
1. Not later than May 1 of each year, the commission shall prepare a current list of the names, e-mail addresses, and physical addresses of, and the offices or positions held by, every state officer, local officer, and specified employee. Each unit of government shall assist the commission in compiling the list by providing to the commission not later than February 1 of each year the name, e-mail address, physical address, and name of agency of, and the office or position held by, each state officer, local officer, or specified state employee within the respective unit of government as of December 31 of the preceding year.
2. Not later than May 15 of each year, the commission shall provide each supervisor of elections with a current list of all local officers required to file with such supervisor of elections.

(b) Not later than June 1 of each year, the commission and each supervisor of elections, as appropriate, shall distribute a copy of the form prescribed for compliance with subsection (3) and a notice of all applicable disclosure forms and filing deadlines to each person required to file a statement of financial interests. Beginning January 1, 2023, no paper forms will be provided. The notice required under this paragraph and instructions for electronic submission must be delivered by e-mail.
(c) Not later than August 1 of each year, the commission and each supervisor of elections shall determine which persons required to file a statement of financial interests in their respective offices have failed to do so and shall send delinquency notices to these persons. Each notice must state that a grace period is in effect until September 1 of the current year; that no investigative or disciplinary action based upon the delinquency will be taken by the agency head or commission if the statement is filed by September 1 of the current year; that, if the statement is not filed by September 1 of the current year, a fine of $25 for each day late will be imposed, up to a maximum penalty of $1,500; for notices distributed by a supervisor of elections, that he or she is required by law to notify the commission of the delinquency; and that, if upon the filing of a sworn complaint the commission finds that the person has failed to timely file the statement within 60 days after September 1 of the current year, such person will also be subject to the penalties provided in s. 112.317. Beginning January 1, 2023, notice required under this paragraph must be delivered by e-mail and must be redelivered on a weekly basis by e-mail as long as the person remains delinquent.
(d) No later than November 15 of each year, the supervisor of elections in each county shall certify to the commission a list of the names and addresses of, and the offices or positions held by, all persons who have failed to timely file the required statements of financial interests. The certification must include the earliest of the dates described in subparagraph (g)1. The certification shall be on a form prescribed by the commission and shall indicate whether the supervisor of elections has provided the disclosure forms and notice as required by this subsection to all persons named on the delinquency list.
(e) Statements must be received by the commission not later than 5 p.m. of the due date. However, any statement that is postmarked by the United States Postal Service by midnight of the due date is deemed to have been filed in a timely manner, and a certificate of mailing obtained from and dated by the United States Postal Service at the time of the mailing, or a receipt from an established courier company which bears a date on or before the due date, constitutes proof of mailing in a timely manner. Beginning January 1, 2023, upon request of the filer, the commission must provide verification to the filer that the commission has received the filed statement.
(f) Beginning January 1, 2023, the statement must be accompanied by a declaration as provided in s. 92.525(2) and an electronic acknowledgment thereof.
(g) Any person who is required to file a statement of financial interests and whose name is on the commission’s list, and to whom notice has been sent, but who fails to timely file is assessed a fine of $25 per day for each day late up to a maximum of $1,500; however, this $1,500 limitation on automatic fines does not limit the civil penalty that may be imposed if the statement is filed more than 60 days after the deadline and a complaint is filed, as provided in s. 112.324. The commission must provide by rule the grounds for waiving the fine and procedures by which each person whose name is on the list and who is determined to have not filed in a timely manner will be notified of assessed fines and may appeal. The rule must provide for and make specific the following:
1. The amount of the fine due is based upon the earliest of the following:
a. When a statement is actually received by the office.
b. When the statement is postmarked.
c. When the certificate of mailing is dated.
d. When the receipt from an established courier company is dated.

2. For a specified state employee or a state officer, upon receipt of the disclosure statement by the commission or upon accrual of the maximum penalty, whichever occurs first, and for a local officer upon receipt by the commission of the certification from the local officer’s supervisor of elections pursuant to paragraph (d), the commission shall determine the amount of the fine which is due and shall notify the delinquent person. The notice must include an explanation of the appeal procedure under subparagraph 3. The fine must be paid within 30 days after the notice of payment due is transmitted, unless appeal is made to the commission pursuant to subparagraph 3. The moneys are to be deposited into the General Revenue Fund.
3. Any reporting person may appeal or dispute a fine, based upon unusual circumstances surrounding the failure to file on the designated due date, and may request and is entitled to a hearing before the commission, which may waive the fine in whole or in part for good cause shown. Any such request must be in writing and received by the commission within 30 days after the notice of payment due is transmitted. In such a case, the reporting person must, within the 30-day period, notify the person designated to review the timeliness of reports in writing of his or her intention to bring the matter before the commission. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “unusual circumstances” does not include the failure to monitor an e-mail account or failure to receive notice if the person has not notified the commission of a change in his or her e-mail address.

(h) Any state officer, local officer, or specified employee whose name is not on the list of persons required to file an annual statement of financial interests is not subject to the penalties provided in s. 112.317 or the fine provided in this section for failure to timely file a statement of financial interests in any year in which the omission occurred, but nevertheless is required to file the disclosure statement.
(i) The notification requirements and fines of this subsection do not apply to candidates or to the first or final filing required of any state officer, specified employee, or local officer as provided in paragraph (2)(b).
(j) Notwithstanding any provision of chapter 120, any fine imposed under this subsection which is not waived by final order of the commission and which remains unpaid more than 60 days after the notice of payment due or more than 60 days after the commission renders a final order on the appeal must be submitted to the Department of Financial Services as a claim, debt, or other obligation owed to the state, and the department shall assign the collection of such a fine to a collection agent as provided in s. 17.20.

(9)
(a) The appointing official or body shall notify each newly appointed local officer, state officer, or specified state employee, not later than the date of appointment, of the officer’s or employee’s duty to comply with the disclosure requirements of this section. The agency head of each employing agency shall notify each newly employed local officer or specified state employee, not later than the day of employment, of the officer’s or employee’s duty to comply with the disclosure requirements of this section. The appointing official or body or employing agency head may designate a person to be responsible for the notification requirements of this paragraph.
(b) The agency head of the agency of each local officer, state officer, or specified state employee who is required to file a statement of financial interests for the final disclosure period shall notify such persons of their obligation to file the final disclosure and may designate a person to be responsible for the notification requirements of this paragraph.
(c) If a person holding public office or public employment fails or refuses to file an annual statement of financial interests for any year in which the person received notice from the commission regarding the failure to file and has accrued the maximum automatic fine authorized under this section, regardless of whether the fine imposed was paid or collected, the commission shall initiate an investigation and conduct a public hearing without receipt of a complaint to determine whether the person’s failure to file is willful. Such investigation and hearing must be conducted in accordance with s. 112.324. Except as provided in s. 112.324(4), if the commission determines that the person willfully failed to file a statement of financial interests, the commission shall enter an order recommending that the officer or employee be removed from his or her public office or public employment. The commission shall forward its recommendation as provided in s. 112.324.

(10) A public officer who has filed a disclosure for any calendar or fiscal year shall not be required to file a second disclosure for the same year or any part thereof, notwithstanding any requirement of this act, except that any public officer who qualifies as a candidate for public office shall file a copy of the disclosure with the officer before whom he or she qualifies as a candidate at the time of qualification.
(11)
(a) The commission shall treat an amendment to an annual statement of financial interests which is filed before September 1 of the year in which the statement is due as part of the original filing, regardless of whether a complaint has been filed. If a complaint alleges only an immaterial, inconsequential, or de minimis error or omission, the commission may not take any action on the complaint other than notifying the filer of the complaint. The filer must be given 30 days to file an amendment to the statement of financial interests correcting any errors. If the filer does not file an amendment to the statement of financial interests within 30 days after the commission sends notice of the complaint, the commission may continue with proceedings pursuant to s. 112.324.
(b) For purposes of the final statement of financial interests, the commission shall treat an amendment to a final statement of financial interests as part of the original filing, if filed within 60 days of the original filing regardless of whether a complaint has been filed. If, more than 60 days after a final statement of financial interests is filed, a complaint is filed alleging a complete omission of any information required to be disclosed by this section, the commission may immediately follow the complaint procedures in s. 112.324. However, if the complaint alleges an immaterial, inconsequential, or de minimis error or omission, the commission may not take any action on the complaint other than notifying the filer of the complaint. The filer must be given 30 days to file an amendment to the final statement of financial interests correcting any errors. If the filer does not file an amendment to the final statement of financial interests within 30 days after the commission sends notice of the complaint, the commission may continue with proceedings pursuant to s. 112.324.
(c) For purposes of this section, an error or omission is immaterial, inconsequential, or de minimis if the original filing provided sufficient information for the public to identify potential conflicts of interest. However, failure to certify completion of annual ethics training required under s. 112.3142 does not constitute an immaterial, inconsequential, or de minimis error or omission.

(12)
(a) An individual required to file a statement pursuant to this section may have the statement prepared by an attorney in good standing with The Florida Bar or by a certified public accountant licensed under chapter 473. After preparing a statement form, the attorney or certified public accountant must sign the form indicating that he or she prepared the form in accordance with this section and the instructions for completing and filing the disclosure forms and that, upon his or her reasonable knowledge and belief, the disclosure is true and correct. If a complaint is filed alleging a failure to disclose information required by this section, the commission shall determine whether the information was disclosed to the attorney or certified public accountant. The failure of the attorney or certified public accountant to accurately transcribe information provided by the individual who is required to file the statement does not constitute a violation of this section.
(b) An elected officer or candidate who chooses to use an attorney or a certified public accountant to prepare his or her statement may pay for the services of the attorney or certified public accountant from funds in an office account created pursuant to s. 106.141 or, during a year that the individual qualifies for election to public office, the candidate’s campaign depository pursuant to s. 106.021.

(13) The commission shall adopt rules and forms specifying how a state officer, local officer, or specified state employee may amend his or her statement of financial interests to report information that was not included on the form as originally filed. If the amendment is the subject of a complaint filed under this part, the commission and the proper disciplinary official or body shall consider as a mitigating factor when considering appropriate disciplinary action the fact that the amendment was filed before any complaint or other inquiry or proceeding, while recognizing that the public was deprived of access to information to which it was entitled.
History - (s. 5, ch. 74-177; ss. 2, 6, ch. 75-196; s. 2, ch. 76-18; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 63, ch. 77-175; s. 54, ch. 79-40; s. 3, ch. 82-98; s. 2, ch. 83-128; ss. 2, 5, ch. 83-282; s. 3, ch. 84-318; s. 1, ch. 88-316; s. 1, ch. 90-169; s. 5, ch. 90-502; s. 27, ch. 91-46; s. 6, ch. 91-85; s. 6, ch. 91-292; ss. 5, 13, ch. 94-277; s. 3, ch. 94-340; s. 1410, ch. 95-147; s. 14, ch. 96-410; s. 31, ch. 97-286; s. 17, ch. 99-399; s. 2, ch. 2000-161; s. 3, ch. 2000-243; s. 31, ch. 2000-258; s. 23, ch. 2000-372; s. 3, ch. 2001-91; s. 2, ch. 2001-282; s. 128, ch. 2003-261; s. 4, ch. 2006-275; s. 12, ch. 2007-217; s. 7, ch. 2008-6; s. 9, ch. 2013-36; s. 4, ch. 2014-183; s. 4, ch. 2019-97.)

§112.31455 FS | COLLECTION METHODS FOR UNPAID AUTOMATIC FINES FOR FAILURE TO TIMELY FILE DISCLOSURE OF FINANCIAL INTERESTS

(1) Before referring any unpaid fine accrued pursuant to s. 112.3144(8) or s. 112.3145(8) to the Department of Financial Services, the commission shall attempt to determine whether the individual owing such a fine is a current public officer or current public employee. If so, the commission may notify the Chief Financial Officer or the governing body of the appropriate county, municipality, district school board, or special district of the total amount of any fine owed to the commission by such individual.
(a) After receipt and verification of the notice from the commission, the Chief Financial Officer or the governing body of the county, municipality, district school board, or special district shall begin withholding the lesser of 10 percent or the maximum amount allowed under federal law from any salary-related payment. The withheld payments shall be remitted to the commission until the fine is satisfied.
(b) The Chief Financial Officer or the governing body of the county, municipality, district school board, or special district may retain an amount of each withheld payment, as provided in s. 77.0305, to cover the administrative costs incurred under this section.

(2) If the commission determines that the individual who is the subject of an unpaid fine accrued pursuant to s. 112.3144(8) or s. 112.3145(8) is no longer a public officer or public employee or if the commission is unable to determine whether the individual is a current public officer or public employee, the commission may, 6 months after the order becomes final, seek garnishment of any wages to satisfy the amount of the fine, or any unpaid portion thereof, pursuant to chapter 77. Upon recording the order imposing the fine with the clerk of the circuit court, the order shall be deemed a judgment for purposes of garnishment pursuant to chapter 77.
(3) The commission may refer unpaid fines to the appropriate collection agency, as directed by the Chief Financial Officer, to utilize any collection methods provided by law. Except as expressly limited by this section, any other collection methods authorized by law are allowed.
(4) Action may be taken to collect any unpaid fine imposed by ss. 112.3144 and 112.3145 within 20 years after the date the final order is rendered.
History - (s. 10, ch. 2013-36; s. 10, ch. 2015-2; s. 3, ch. 2018-5; s. 5, ch. 2019-97; s. 19, ch. 2020-2.)

§112.3146 FS | PUBLIC RECORDS

The statements required by ss. 112.313, 112.3145, 112.3148, and 112.3149 shall be public records within the meaning of s. 119.01. History - (s. 6, ch. 74-177; s. 6, ch. 90-502; s. 7, ch. 91-85.)

§112.3187 FS | ADVERSE ACTIONS AGAINST EMPLOYEE FOR DISCLOSING INFORMATION OF SPECIFIED NATURE PROHIBITED; EMPLOYEE REMEDY AND RELIEF

(1) SHORT TITLE. — Sections 112.3187-112.31895 may be cited as the “Whistle-blower’s Act.”
(2) LEGISLATIVE INTENT. — It is the intent of the Legislature to prevent agencies or independent contractors from taking retaliatory action against an employee who reports to an appropriate agency violations of law on the part of a public employer or independent contractor that create a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare. It is further the intent of the Legislature to prevent agencies or independent contractors from taking retaliatory action against any person who discloses information to an appropriate agency alleging improper use of governmental office, gross waste of funds, or any other abuse or gross neglect of duty on the part of an agency, public officer, or employee.
(3) DEFINITIONS. — As used in this act, unless otherwise specified, the following words or terms shall have the meanings indicated:
(a) “Agency” means any state, regional, county, local, or municipal government entity, whether executive, judicial, or legislative; any official, officer, department, division, bureau, commission, authority, or political subdivision therein; or any public school, community college, or state university.
(b) “Employee” means a person who performs services for, and under the control and direction of, or contracts with, an agency or independent contractor for wages or other remuneration.
(c) “Adverse personnel action” means the discharge, suspension, transfer, or demotion of any employee or the withholding of bonuses, the reduction in salary or benefits, or any other adverse action taken against an employee within the terms and conditions of employment by an agency or independent contractor.
(d) “Independent contractor” means a person, other than an agency, engaged in any business and who enters into a contract, including a provider agreement, with an agency.
(e) “Gross mismanagement” means a continuous pattern of managerial abuses, wrongful or arbitrary and capricious actions, or fraudulent or criminal conduct which may have a substantial adverse economic impact.

(4) ACTIONS PROHIBITED. —
(a) An agency or independent contractor shall not dismiss, discipline, or take any other adverse personnel action against an employee for disclosing information pursuant to the provisions of this section.
(b) An agency or independent contractor shall not take any adverse action that affects the rights or interests of a person in retaliation for the person’s disclosure of information under this section.
(c) The provisions of this subsection shall not be applicable when an employee or person discloses information known by the employee or person to be false.

(5) NATURE OF INFORMATION DISCLOSED. — The information disclosed under this section must include:
(a) Any violation or suspected violation of any federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation committed by an employee or agent of an agency or independent contractor which creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare.
(b) Any act or suspected act of gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, gross waste of public funds, suspected or actual Medicaid fraud or abuse, or gross neglect of duty committed by an employee or agent of an agency or independent contractor.

(6) TO WHOM INFORMATION DISCLOSED. — The information disclosed under this section must be disclosed to any agency or federal government entity having the authority to investigate, police, manage, or otherwise remedy the violation or act, including, but not limited to, the Office of the Chief Inspector General, an agency inspector general or the employee designated as agency inspector general under s. 112.3189(1) or inspectors general under s. 20.055, the Florida Commission on Human Relations, and the whistle-blower’s hotline created under s. 112.3189. However, for disclosures concerning a local governmental entity, including any regional, county, or municipal entity, special district, community college district, or school district or any political subdivision of any of the foregoing, the information must be disclosed to a chief executive officer as defined in s. 447.203(9) or other appropriate local official.
(7) EMPLOYEES AND PERSONS PROTECTED. — This section protects employees and persons who disclose information on their own initiative in a written and signed complaint; who are requested to participate in an investigation, hearing, or other inquiry conducted by any agency or federal government entity; who refuse to participate in any adverse action prohibited by this section; or who initiate a complaint through the whistle-blower’s hotline or the hotline of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Department of Legal Affairs; or employees who file any written complaint to their supervisory officials or employees who submit a complaint to the Chief Inspector General in the Executive Office of the Governor, to the employee designated as agency inspector general under s. 112.3189(1), or to the Florida Commission on Human Relations. The provisions of this section may not be used by a person while he or she is under the care, custody, or control of the state correctional system or, after release from the care, custody, or control of the state correctional system, with respect to circumstances that occurred during any period of incarceration. No remedy or other protection under ss. 112.3187-112.31895 applies to any person who has committed or intentionally participated in committing the violation or suspected violation for which protection under ss. 112.3187-112.31895 is being sought.
(8) REMEDIES. —
(a) Any employee of or applicant for employment with any state agency, as the term “state agency” is defined in s. 216.011, who is discharged, disciplined, or subjected to other adverse personnel action, or denied employment, because he or she engaged in an activity protected by this section may file a complaint, which complaint must be made in accordance with s. 112.31895. Upon receipt of notice from the Florida Commission on Human Relations of termination of the investigation, the complainant may elect to pursue the administrative remedy available under s. 112.31895 or bring a civil action within 180 days after receipt of the notice.
(b) Within 60 days after the action prohibited by this section, any local public employee protected by this section may file a complaint with the appropriate local governmental authority, if that authority has established by ordinance an administrative procedure for handling such complaints or has contracted with the Division of Administrative Hearings under s. 120.65 to conduct hearings under this section. The administrative procedure created by ordinance must provide for the complaint to be heard by a panel of impartial persons appointed by the appropriate local governmental authority. Upon hearing the complaint, the panel must make findings of fact and conclusions of law for a final decision by the local governmental authority. Within 180 days after entry of a final decision by the local governmental authority, the public employee who filed the complaint may bring a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction. If the local governmental authority has not established an administrative procedure by ordinance or contract, a local public employee may, within 180 days after the action prohibited by this section, bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction. For the purpose of this paragraph, the term “local governmental authority” includes any regional, county, or municipal entity, special district, community college district, or school district or any political subdivision of any of the foregoing.
(c) Any other person protected by this section may, after exhausting all available contractual or administrative remedies, bring a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction within 180 days after the action prohibited by this section.

(9) RELIEF. — In any action brought under this section, the relief must include the following:
(a) Reinstatement of the employee to the same position held before the adverse action was commenced, or to an equivalent position or reasonable front pay as alternative relief.
(b) Reinstatement of the employee’s full fringe benefits and seniority rights, as appropriate.
(c) Compensation, if appropriate, for lost wages, benefits, or other lost remuneration caused by the adverse action.
(d) Payment of reasonable costs, including attorney’s fees, to a substantially prevailing employee, or to the prevailing employer if the employee filed a frivolous action in bad faith.
(e) Issuance of an injunction, if appropriate, by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(f) Temporary reinstatement to the employee’s former position or to an equivalent position, pending the final outcome on the complaint, if an employee complains of being discharged in retaliation for a protected disclosure and if a court of competent jurisdiction or the Florida Commission on Human Relations, as applicable under s. 112.31895, determines that the disclosure was not made in bad faith or for a wrongful purpose or occurred after an agency’s initiation of a personnel action against the employee which includes documentation of the employee’s violation of a disciplinary standard or performance deficiency. This paragraph does not apply to an employee of a municipality.

(10) DEFENSES. — It shall be an affirmative defense to any action brought pursuant to this section that the adverse action was predicated upon grounds other than, and would have been taken absent, the employee’s or person’s exercise of rights protected by this section.
(11) EXISTING RIGHTS. — Sections 112.3187-112.31895 do not diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of an employee under any other law or rule or under any collective bargaining agreement or employment contract; however, the election of remedies in s. 447.401 also applies to whistle-blower actions.
History .— ss. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, ch. 86-233; s. 1, ch. 91-285; s. 12, ch. 92-316; s. 1, ch. 93-57; s. 702, ch. 95-147; s. 1, ch. 95-153; s. 15, ch. 96-410; s. 20, ch. 99-333; s. 2, ch. 2002-400.

§112.3188 FS | CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION GIVEN TO THE CHIEF INSPECTOR GENERAL, INTERNAL AUDITORS, INSPECTORS GENERAL, LOCAL CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS, OR OTHER APPROPRIATE LOCAL OFFICIALS

(1) The name or identity of any individual who discloses in good faith to the Chief Inspector General or an agency inspector general, a local chief executive officer, or other appropriate local official information that alleges that an employee or agent of an agency or independent contractor:
(a) Has violated or is suspected of having violated any federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation, thereby creating and presenting a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare; or
(b) Has committed an act of gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, gross waste of public funds, or gross neglect of duty may not be disclosed to anyone other than a member of the Chief Inspector General’s, agency inspector general’s, internal auditor’s, local chief executive officer’s, or other appropriate local official’s staff without the written consent of the individual, unless the Chief Inspector General, internal auditor, agency inspector general, local chief executive officer, or other appropriate local official determines that: the disclosure of the individual’s identity is necessary to prevent a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare or to prevent the imminent commission of a crime; or the disclosure is unavoidable and absolutely necessary during the course of the audit, evaluation, or investigation.

(2)
(a) Except as specifically authorized by s. 112.3189, all information received by the Chief Inspector General or an agency inspector general or information produced or derived from fact-finding or other investigations conducted by the Florida Commission on Human Relations or the Department of Law Enforcement is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) if the information is being received or derived from allegations as set forth in paragraph (1)(a) or paragraph (1)(b), and an investigation is active.
(b) All information received by a local chief executive officer or appropriate local official or information produced or derived from fact-finding or investigations conducted pursuant to the administrative procedure established by ordinance by a local government as authorized by s. 112.3187(8)(b) is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution, if the information is being received or derived from allegations as set forth in paragraph (1)(a) or paragraph (1)(b) and an investigation is active.
(c) Information deemed confidential under this section may be disclosed by the Chief Inspector General, agency inspector general, local chief executive officer, or other appropriate local official receiving the information if the recipient determines that the disclosure of the information is absolutely necessary to prevent a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare or to prevent the imminent commission of a crime. Information disclosed under this subsection may be disclosed only to persons who are in a position to prevent the danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare or to prevent the imminent commission of a crime based on the disclosed information.
1. An investigation is active under this section if:
a. It is an ongoing investigation or inquiry or collection of information and evidence and is continuing with a reasonable, good faith anticipation of resolution in the foreseeable future; or
b. All or a portion of the matters under investigation or inquiry are active criminal intelligence information or active criminal investigative information as defined in s. 119.011.

2. Notwithstanding sub-subparagraph 1.a., an investigation ceases to be active when:
a. The written report required under s. 112.3189(9) has been sent by the Chief Inspector General to the recipients named in s. 112.3189(9);
b. It is determined that an investigation is not necessary under s. 112.3189(5); or
c. A final decision has been rendered by the local government or by the Division of Administrative Hearings pursuant to s. 112.3187(8)(b).

3. Notwithstanding paragraphs (a), (b), and this paragraph, information or records received or produced under this section which are otherwise confidential under law or exempt from disclosure under chapter 119 retain their confidentiality or exemption.
4. Any person who willfully and knowingly discloses information or records made confidential under this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.


History. — s. 6, ch. 90-247; s. 1, ch. 91-150; s. 3, ch. 91-285; s. 2, ch. 93-57; s. 1, ch. 95-136; s. 2, ch. 95-153; s. 1, ch. 95-166; ss. 36, 37, ch. 96-406; s. 21, ch. 99-333. 1Note. — As amended by s. 1, ch. 95-166, s. 2, ch. 95-153, and s. 36, ch. 96-406; this version of paragraph (2)(a) was also amended by s. 21, ch. 99-333. For a description of multiple acts in the same session affecting a statutory provision, see preface to the Florida Statutes, “Statutory Construction.” This section was also amended by s. 1, ch. 95-136, and s. 37, ch. 96-406, and that version reads:
112.3188 Confidentiality of information given to the Chief Inspector General and agency inspectors general. —
(1) The identity of any individual who discloses in good faith to the Chief Inspector General or an agency inspector general information that alleges that an employee or agent of an agency or independent contractor has violated or is suspected of having violated any federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation, thereby creating and presenting a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare or has committed or is suspected of having committed an act of gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, gross waste of public funds, or gross neglect of duty is exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution and shall not be disclosed to anyone other than a member of the Chief Inspector General’s or agency inspector general’s staff without the written consent of the individual, unless the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general determines that:
(a) The disclosure of the individual’s identity is necessary to prevent a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare or to prevent the imminent commission of a crime, provided that such information is disclosed only to persons who are in a position to prevent the danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare or to prevent the imminent commission of a crime;
(b) The disclosure of the individual’s identity is unavoidable and absolutely necessary during the course of the inquiry or investigation; or
(c) The disclosure of the individual’s identity is authorized as a result of the individual consenting in writing to attach general comments signed by such individual to the final report required pursuant to s. 112.3189(6)(b).

(2)
(a) Except as specifically authorized by s. 112.3189 and except as provided in subsection (1), all information received by the Chief Inspector General or an agency inspector general or information produced or derived from fact-finding or other investigations conducted by the Department of Legal Affairs, the Office of the Public Counsel, or the Department of Law Enforcement is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution for an initial period of not more than 30 days during which time a determination is made whether an investigation is required pursuant to s. 112.3189(5)(a) and, if an investigation is determined to be required, until the investigation is closed or ceases to be active. For the purposes of this subsection, an investigation is active while such investigation is being conducted with a reasonable good faith belief that it may lead to the filing of administrative, civil, or criminal charges. An investigation does not cease to be active so long as the Chief Inspector General or the agency inspector general is proceeding with reasonable dispatch and there is a good faith belief that action may be initiated by the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general or other administrative or law enforcement agency. Except for active criminal intelligence or criminal investigative information as defined in s. 119.011, and except as otherwise provided in this section, all information obtained pursuant to this subsection shall become available to the public when the investigation is closed or ceases to be active. An investigation is closed or ceases to be active when the final report required pursuant to s. 112.3189(9) has been sent by the Chief Inspector General to the recipients specified in s. 112.3189(9)(c).
(b) Information deemed confidential under this subsection may be disclosed by the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general receiving the information if the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general determines that the disclosure of the information is absolutely necessary to prevent a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare or to prevent the imminent commission of a crime, and such information may be disclosed only to persons who are in a position to prevent the danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare or to prevent the imminent commission of a crime based on the disclosed information.

(3) Information or records obtained under this section which are otherwise confidential under law or exempt from disclosure shall retain their confidentiality or exemption.
(4) Any person who willfully and knowingly discloses information or records made confidential under this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

§112.3189 FS | INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES UPON RECEIPT OF WHISTLE-BLOWER INFORMATION FROM CERTAIN STATE EMPLOYEES

(1) This section only applies to the disclosure of information as described in s. 112.3187(5) by an employee or former employee of, or an applicant for employment with, a state agency, as the term “state agency” is defined in s. 216.011, to the Office of the Chief Inspector General of the Executive Office of the Governor or to the agency inspector general. If an agency does not have an inspector general, the head of the state agency, as defined in s. 216.011, shall designate an employee to receive information described in s. 112.3187(5). For purposes of this section and s. 112.3188 only, the employee designated by the head of the state agency shall be deemed an agency inspector general.
(2) To facilitate the receipt of information described in subsection (1), the Chief Inspector General shall maintain an in-state toll-free whistle-blower’s hotline and shall circulate among the various state agencies an advisory for all employees which indicates the existence of the toll-free number and its purpose and provides an address to which written whistle-blower information may be forwarded.
(3) When a person alleges information described in s. 112.3187(5), the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general actually receiving such information shall within 20 days of receiving such information determine:
(a) Whether the information disclosed is the type of information described in s. 112.3187(5).
(b) Whether the source of the information is a person who is an employee or former employee of, or an applicant for employment with, a state agency, as defined in s. 216.011.
(c) Whether the information actually disclosed demonstrates reasonable cause to suspect that an employee or agent of an agency or independent contractor has violated any federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation, thereby creating and presenting a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare, or has committed an act of gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, gross waste of public funds, or gross neglect of duty.

(4) If the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general under subsection (3) determines that the information disclosed is not the type of information described in s. 112.3187(5), or that the source of the information is not a person who is an employee or former employee of, or an applicant for employment with, a state agency, as defined in s. 216.011, or that the information disclosed does not demonstrate reasonable cause to suspect that an employee or agent of an agency or independent contractor has violated any federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation, thereby creating and presenting a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare, or has committed an act of gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, gross waste of public funds, or gross neglect of duty, the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general shall notify the complainant of such fact and copy and return, upon request of the complainant, any documents and other materials that were provided by the complainant.
(5)
(a) If the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general under subsection (3) determines that the information disclosed is the type of information described in s. 112.3187(5), that the source of the information is from a person who is an employee or former employee of, or an applicant for employment with, a state agency, as defined in s. 216.011, and that the information disclosed demonstrates reasonable cause to suspect that an employee or agent of an agency or independent contractor has violated any federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation, thereby creating a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare, or has committed an act of gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, gross waste of public funds, or gross neglect of duty, the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general making such determination shall then conduct an investigation, unless the Chief Inspector General or the agency inspector general determines, within 30 days after receiving the allegations from the complainant, that such investigation is unnecessary. For purposes of this subsection, the Chief Inspector General or the agency inspector general shall consider the following factors, but is not limited to only the following factors, when deciding whether the investigation is not necessary:
1. The gravity of the disclosed information compared to the time and expense of an investigation.
2. The potential for an investigation to yield recommendations that will make state government more efficient and effective.
3. The benefit to state government to have a final report on the disclosed information.
4. Whether the alleged whistle-blower information primarily concerns personnel practices that may be investigated under chapter 110.
5. Whether another agency may be conducting an investigation and whether any investigation under this section could be duplicative.
6. The time that has elapsed between the alleged event and the disclosure of the information.

(b) If the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general determines under paragraph (a) that an investigation is not necessary, the Chief Inspector General or agency inspector general making such determination shall:
1. Copy and return, upon request of the complainant, any documents and other materials provided by the individual who made the disclosure.
2. Inform in writing the head of the state agency for the agency inspector general making the determination that the investigation is not necessary and the individual who made the disclosure of the specific reasons why an investigation is not necessary and why the disclosure will not be further acted on under this section.


(6) The agency inspector general may conduct an investigation pursuant to paragraph (5)(a) only if the person transmitting information to the agency inspector general is an employee or former employee of, or an applicant for employment with, the agency inspector general’s agency. The agency inspector general shall:
(a) Conduct an investigation with respect to the information and any related matters.
(b) Submit to the complainant and the Chief Inspector General, within 60 days after the date on which a determination to conduct an investigation is made under paragraph (5)(a), a final written report that sets forth the agency inspector general’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations, except as provided under subsection (11). The complainant shall be advised in writing by the agency head that the complainant may submit to the Chief Inspector General and agency inspector general comments on the final report within 20 days of the date of the report and that such comments will be attached to the final report.

(7) If the Chief Inspector General decides an investigation should be conducted pursuant to paragraph (5)(a), the Chief Inspector General shall either:
(a) Promptly transmit to the appropriate head of the state agency the information with respect to which the determination to conduct an investigation was made, and such agency head shall conduct an investigation and submit to the Chief Inspector General a final written report that sets forth the agency head’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations; or
(b)
1. Conduct an investigation with respect to the information and any related matters; and
2. Submit to the complainant within 60 days after the date on which a determination to conduct an investigation is made under paragraph (5)(a), a final written report that sets forth the Chief Inspector General’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations, except as provided under subsection (11). The complainant shall be advised in writing by the Chief Inspector General that the complainant may submit to the Chief Inspector General comments on the final report within 20 days of the date of the report and that such comments will be attached to the final report.

(c) The Chief Inspector General may require an agency head to conduct an investigation under paragraph (a) only if the information was transmitted to the Chief Inspector General by:
1. An employee or former employee of, or an applicant for employment with, the agency that the information concerns; or
2. An employee who obtained the information in connection with the performance of the employee’s duties and responsibilities.


(8) Final reports required under this section must be reviewed and signed by the person responsible for conducting the investigation (agency inspector general, agency head, or Chief Inspector General) and must include:
(a) A summary of the information with respect to which the investigation was initiated.
(b) A description of the conduct of the investigation.
(c) A summary of any evidence obtained from the investigation.
(d) A listing of any violation or apparent violation of any law, rule, or regulation.
(e) A description of any action taken or planned as a result of the investigation, such as:
1. A change in an agency rule, regulation, or practice.
2. The restoration of an aggrieved employee.
3. A disciplinary action against an employee.
4. The referral to the Department of Law Enforcement of any evidence of a criminal violation.


(9)
(a) A report required of the agency head under paragraph (7)(a) shall be submitted to the Chief Inspector General and the complainant within 60 days after the agency head receives the complaint from the Chief Inspector General, except as provided under subsection (11). The complainant shall be advised in writing by the agency head that the complainant may submit to the Chief Inspector General comments on the report within 20 days of the date of the report and that such comments will be attached to the final report.
(b) Upon receiving a final report required under this section, the Chief Inspector General shall review the report and determine whether the report contains the information required by subsection (8). If the report does not contain the information required by subsection (8), the Chief Inspector General shall determine why and note the reasons on an addendum to the final report.
(c) The Chief Inspector General shall transmit any final report under this section, any comments provided by the complainant, and any appropriate comments or recommendations by the Chief Inspector General to the Governor, the Legislative Auditing Committee, the investigating agency, and the Chief Financial Officer.
(d) If the Chief Inspector General does not receive the report of the agency head within the time prescribed in paragraph (a), the Chief Inspector General may conduct the investigation in accordance with paragraph (7)(b) or request that another agency inspector general conduct the investigation in accordance with subsection (6) and shall report the complaint to the Governor, to the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, and to the investigating agency, together with a statement noting the failure of the agency head to file the required report.

(10) For any time period set forth in subsections (3), (6), (7), and (9), such time period may be extended in writing by the Chief Inspector General for good cause shown.
(11) If an investigation under this section produces evidence of a criminal violation, the report shall not be transmitted to the complainant, and the agency head or agency inspector general shall notify the Chief Inspector General and the Department of Law Enforcement.
History .— s. 13, ch. 92-316; s. 3, ch. 93-57; s. 129, ch. 2003-261; s. 17, ch. 2011-34.

§112.31895 FS | INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES IN RESPONSE TO PROHIBITED PERSONNEL ACTIONS

(1) COMPLAINT. —
(a) If a disclosure under s. 112.3187 includes or results in alleged retaliation by an employer, the employee or former employee of, or applicant for employment with, a state agency, as defined in s. 216.011, that is so affected may file a complaint alleging a prohibited personnel action, which complaint must be made by filing a written complaint with the Office of the Chief Inspector General in the Executive Office of the Governor or the Florida Commission on Human Relations, no later than 60 days after the prohibited personnel action.
(b) Within 5 working days after receiving a complaint under this section, the office or officer receiving the complaint shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint and provide copies of the complaint and any other preliminary information available concerning the disclosure of information under s. 112.3187 to each of the other parties named in paragraph (a), which parties shall each acknowledge receipt of such copies to the complainant.

(2) FACT FINDING. — The Florida Commission on Human Relations shall:
(a) Receive any allegation of a personnel action prohibited by s. 112.3187, including a proposed or potential action, and conduct informal fact finding regarding any allegation under this section, to the extent necessary to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a prohibited personnel action under s. 112.3187 has occurred, is occurring, or is to be taken.
(b) Within 180 days after receiving the complaint, provide the agency head and the complainant with a fact-finding report that may include recommendations to the parties or proposed resolution of the complaint. The fact-finding report shall be presumed admissible in any subsequent or related administrative or judicial review.

(3) CORRECTIVE ACTION AND TERMINATION OF INVESTIGATION. —
(a) The Florida Commission on Human Relations, in accordance with this act and for the sole purpose of this act, is empowered to:
1. Receive and investigate complaints from employees alleging retaliation by state agencies, as the term “state agency” is defined in s. 216.011.
2. Protect employees and applicants for employment with such agencies from prohibited personnel practices under s. 112.3187.
3. Petition for stays and petition for corrective actions, including, but not limited to, temporary reinstatement.
4. Recommend disciplinary proceedings pursuant to investigation and appropriate agency rules and procedures.
5. Coordinate with the Chief Inspector General in the Executive Office of the Governor and the Florida Commission on Human Relations to receive, review, and forward to appropriate agencies, legislative entities, or the Department of Law Enforcement disclosures of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or disclosures of gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, neglect of duty, or gross waste of public funds.
6. Review rules pertaining to personnel matters issued or proposed by the Department of Management Services, the Public Employees Relations Commission, and other agencies, and, if the Florida Commission on Human Relations finds that any rule or proposed rule, on its face or as implemented, requires the commission of a prohibited personnel practice, provide a written comment to the appropriate agency.
7. Investigate, request assistance from other governmental entities, and, if appropriate, bring actions concerning, allegations of retaliation by state agencies under subparagraph 1.
8. Administer oaths, examine witnesses, take statements, issue subpoenas, order the taking of depositions, order responses to written interrogatories, and make appropriate motions to limit discovery, pursuant to investigations under subparagraph 1.
9. Intervene or otherwise participate, as a matter of right, in any appeal or other proceeding arising under this section before the Public Employees Relations Commission or any other appropriate agency, except that the Florida Commission on Human Relations must comply with the rules of the commission or other agency and may not seek corrective action or intervene in an appeal or other proceeding without the consent of the person protected under ss. 112.3187-112.31895.
10. Conduct an investigation, in the absence of an allegation, to determine whether reasonable grounds exist to believe that a prohibited action or a pattern of prohibited action has occurred, is occurring, or is to be taken.

(b) Within 15 days after receiving a complaint that a person has been discharged from employment allegedly for disclosing protected information under s. 112.3187, the Florida Commission on Human Relations shall review the information and determine whether temporary reinstatement is appropriate under s. 112.3187(9)(f). If the Florida Commission on Human Relations so determines, it shall apply for an expedited order from the appropriate agency or circuit court for the immediate reinstatement of the employee who has been discharged subsequent to the disclosure made under s. 112.3187, pending the issuance of the final order on the complaint.
(c) The Florida Commission on Human Relations shall notify a complainant of the status of the investigation and any action taken at such times as the commission considers appropriate.
(d) If the Florida Commission on Human Relations is unable to conciliate a complaint within 35 days after providing the agency head and complainant with the fact-finding report, the Florida Commission on Human Relations shall terminate the investigation. Upon termination of any investigation, the Florida Commission on Human Relations shall notify the complainant and the agency head of the termination of the investigation, providing a summary of relevant facts found during the investigation and the reasons for terminating the investigation. A written statement under this paragraph is presumed admissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding but is not admissible without the consent of the complainant.
(e)
1. The Florida Commission on Human Relations may request an agency or circuit court to order a stay, on such terms as the court requires, of any personnel action for 45 days if the Florida Commission on Human Relations determines that reasonable grounds exist to believe that a prohibited personnel action has occurred, is occurring, or is to be taken. The Florida Commission on Human Relations may request that such stay be extended for appropriate periods of time.
2. If, in connection with any investigation, the Florida Commission on Human Relations determines that reasonable grounds exist to believe that a prohibited action has occurred, is occurring, or is to be taken which requires corrective action, the Florida Commission on Human Relations shall report the determination together with any findings or recommendations to the agency head and may report that determination and those findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Chief Financial Officer. The Florida Commission on Human Relations may include in the report recommendations for corrective action to be taken.
3. If, after 35 days, the agency does not implement the recommended action, the Florida Commission on Human Relations shall terminate the investigation and notify the complainant of the right to appeal under subsection (4), or may petition the agency for corrective action under this subsection.
4. If the Florida Commission on Human Relations finds, in consultation with the individual subject to the prohibited action, that the agency has implemented the corrective action, the commission shall file such finding with the agency head, together with any written comments that the individual provides, and terminate the investigation.

(f) If the Florida Commission on Human Relations finds that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that a prohibited personnel action has occurred, is occurring, or is to be taken, the commission shall terminate the investigation.
(g)
1. If, in connection with any investigation under this section, it is determined that reasonable grounds exist to believe that a criminal violation has occurred which has not been previously reported, the Florida Commission on Human Relations shall report this determination to the Department of Law Enforcement and to the state attorney having jurisdiction over the matter.
2. If an alleged criminal violation has been reported, the Florida Commission on Human Relations shall confer with the Department of Law Enforcement and the state attorney before proceeding with the investigation of the prohibited personnel action and may defer the investigation pending completion of the criminal investigation and proceedings. The Florida Commission on Human Relations shall inform the complainant of the decision to defer the investigation and, if appropriate, of the confidentiality of the investigation.

(h) If, in connection with any investigation under this section, the Florida Commission on Human Relations determines that reasonable grounds exist to believe that a violation of a law, rule, or regulation has occurred, other than a criminal violation or a prohibited action under this section, the commission may report such violation to the head of the agency involved. Within 30 days after the agency receives the report, the agency head shall provide to the commission a certification that states that the head of the agency has personally reviewed the report and indicates what action has been or is to be taken and when the action will be completed.
(i) During any investigation under this section, disciplinary action may not be taken against any employee of a state agency, as the term “state agency” is defined in s. 216.011, for reporting an alleged prohibited personnel action that is under investigation, or for reporting any related activity, or against any employee for participating in an investigation without notifying the Florida Commission on Human Relations.
(j) The Florida Commission on Human Relations may also petition for an award of reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses from a state agency, as the term “state agency” is defined in s. 216.011, pursuant to s. 112.3187(9).

(4) RIGHT TO APPEAL. —
(a) Not more than 21 days after receipt of a notice of termination of the investigation from the Florida Commission on Human Relations, the complainant may file, with the Public Employees Relations Commission, a complaint against the employer-agency regarding the alleged prohibited personnel action. The Public Employees Relations Commission shall have jurisdiction over such complaints under ss. 112.3187 and 447.503(4) and (5).
(b) Judicial review of any final order of the commission shall be as provided in s. 120.68.

History. — s. 14, ch. 92-316; s. 4, ch. 93-57; s. 703, ch. 95-147; s. 22, ch. 99-333; s. 130, ch. 2003-261; s. 7, ch. 2020-153.

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