Florida’s New Financial Disclosure Law Prompts Resignations of Small Town Leaders

Many small-town leaders are reportedly resigning from their positions due to a new financial disclosure requirement that takes effect in Florida on January 1.

The state legislature passed the bill earlier this year, requiring local elected officials to submit a financial disclosure form, or Form 6, once a year. The Tampa Bay Times notes that it replaces a previous form called Form 1 and reduces the reporting requirement for assets and liabilities over $10,000 to $1,000.

The two-page form requests information from parliamentarians on their net worth, income, assets, liabilities, and ownership stakes in particular companies.

Florida's New Financial Disclosure Law Prompts Resignations of Small Town Leaders (1)

“Why did it need to become so intrusive all of a sudden? Belleair Beach Mayor Dave Gattis told FOX 13 Tampa Bay, “We were already disclosing our financial status, but now they want it so specific that it almost looks like an attack on home rule and an attack on small municipalities.” What will happen if we [are] unable to carry out our charter? Are they attempting to make us dissolve? I don’t understand Tallahassee’s ultimate goal in this situation.”

Numerous media sources report that the wave of resignations is affecting cities in the Sunshine State, including North Palm Beach, St. Pete Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Seminole, Fort Myers Beach, and Naples. If they haven’t already, a few elected officials indicate they intend to depart by December 31.

According to WPTV, those who refuse to follow the law risk fines or even impeachment. State Representative Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, told the TV station, “Look, serving in public office is an honor, but it also comes with a higher level of transparency and public scrutiny than you would otherwise.” “And you know, to borrow an adage — if you can’t take the heat, don’t come in the kitchen.”

Florida's New Financial Disclosure Law Prompts Resignations of Small Town Leaders (2)

In handling the issue in the Florida House, Roach said that the governor, Florida Cabinet, school board members, sheriffs, and the entire Florida Legislature are among the many authorities who are currently obliged to complete Form 6.

Form 6 became a law in May after being signed by Governor Ron DeSantis. Those who disagree claim that in the upcoming months, they will bring their battle to the state capitol.

It is only an outright invasion of privacy. “We are volunteers; we are not career politicians for the work we do in these small towns; we are just trying to serve by doing what we believe is best for our town and city,” Belleair Mayor Mike Wilkinson told FOX 13. “We all have careers and families; it’s not a full-time position for any of us.”

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