Millions of tax dollars are wasted each year to cover the cost of corruption. This is true for nearly every state in the U.S. However, according to a new report Florida is ranked number one for public sector corruption. A new bill designed to curb corruption has gained Senate support and is now headed to Legislature.
The term 'corruption tax' is what journalists have called the abundance of taxpayers' dollars that get wasted each year to cover the cost of various types of public sector corruption. Everything from bribery and fraud to bid rigging and waste is essentially paid for through tax dollars. Florida residents pay more for governmental services than they would if the system was not so corrupt.
The new bill is designed to deter public sector officials from defrauding the community and to punish those that do. Right now Florida's corruption statute does not apply to contractors who conspire with officials to defraud the public. Private companies that perform government jobs or duties under contract cannot be charged with corruption since they are not actual government officials and immune from public prosecution. The current statute also holds prosecutors responsible for proving that officials and contractors intended on acting in a corrupt manner or had corrupt thoughts when entering into business with each other.
One of the driving forces behind this bill is the sheer volume of stories involving public sector corruption. It was reported that roughly 800 Florida politicians have been convicted of federal corruption charges in the last 10 years. This alarming number breaks down to one politician every five days found guilty of corruption. With so much fraud going on and little prosecutors can do about it, the expense gets put on the shoulders and pocketbooks of taxpayers.
With this new bill coming up for consideration contractors and businesses alike need to stay aware of how they do business and with whom they do it. When contracts are corruptly awarded to one business, other honest businesses lose out. To protect themselves, business owners and contractors should have a trusted legal team on their side.
Source: Florida Today, "Matt Reed: Brevard driving corruption bill," Matt Reed, Oct. 28, 2015