As reported yesterday, Cooper City Mayor Debbie Eisinger has proposed that the Commission discuss rules whereby the City conducts thorough background checks on prospective candidates for elected office within the city and make these investigations public knowledge prior to polling day. Whilst many have voiced suspicion about her motives for such a proposal, the proposal itself has been roundly criticized for its dubious legal authority.
According to her agenda request, “candidate qualifications are governed by State law”. State law, of course, is governed by the constitutions of the State of Florida and of the United States of America. As of this writing, there is nothing in Florida statutes, the Florida constitution or the US constitution empowering a local government official or governing body to conduct background checks on prospective candidates for elected office. And with good reason.
As in many areas of government influence, the proposed solution to failures in government regulation is, in fact, yet more layers of government regulation. Mayor Eisinger’s proposal borders very closely on an outright admission that the Cooper City government is corrupt; her solution to this implied corruption is to provide the same government entity with the tools to delve into the personal lives of their likely replacements. Assurances that an “honest, concise and accurate report about the background of all Cooper City candidates”, seen in this light are specious at best, and in all likelihood these reports would be ‘massaged’ by the same corrupt faction to promote ‘candidates of choice’ as honest and ethical, above the ‘also-rans’; if not now, then most likely sometime in the future. Government power is always open to corruption.
Whilst the City Commission has no authority to bar a candidate beyond the requirements laid out in State and Federal laws and statutes, can there be any doubt that a candidate’s refusal to submit to this in-depth and very personal intrusion would not be used against him or her on the campaign trail? Of course it would, as any opportunity to cast doubt in the minds of voters is used to its best advantage; and often at length.
The proper solution to government corruption is the light of day (or Sunshine, as these laws are referred to). If Mayor Eisinger has information that any of her colleagues (in Cooper City or elsewhere) have engaged in corrupt or unethical activities, the honest and ethical response is to provide this information to the office of the Florida Attorney General for further investigation and, if warranted, prosecution. Many voters will undoubtedly remember such honesty at election time. The solution to the failings of government is never, ever, more of the same.
Anyone with knowledge of government corruption should contact the Florida Attorney General here or the following:
Attorney General of Florida
The Capitol, PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Ph: (850) 245-0197