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Tom Gallagher to face ethics charges

The Florida Ethics Commission on Friday found probable cause that state Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher violated state law on at least four instances when he bought the stocks of four companies that either had state contracts or were regulated by Gallagher’s office.

By JONI JAMES
Published July 28, 2006


TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Ethics Commission on Friday found probable cause that state Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher violated state law on at least four instances when he bought the stocks of four companies that either had state contracts or were regulated by Gallagher’s office.

But in a distinction Gallagher’s campaign for governor calls significant, the commission dismissed citizens’ complaints that he abused or misused his office in doing so.

Instead, Gallagher’s attorney Richard Coates said they charged him with violating a state law that prohibits government employees from having “contractural relationships” with companies that do business with the state.

“I’m pleased that the Commission’s investigation confirmed what I have said all along:  that I never misused my office and that I never gave preferential treatment to any company,” Gallagher said in a prepared statement.

He spent Friday campaigning in Fort Myers and Tampa.

While the commission found four instances of probable cause, in two cases it ruled not to pursue the case. Gallagher had bought stock in two companies that had contracts with state agencies overseen by the Cabinet. However, the Cabinet never reviewed the contracts.

Gallagher will still face a hearing and possible penalties in two other cases: Gallagher in 2002 while insurance commissioner bought stocks in two insurance companies: Penn Treaty American and Conseco.