St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Bush, McKay at odds over taxes
  • Nursing home fight comes to a head
  • Lawyers, judges fight bills that dilute control
  • Committee pushes to keep 2 state jobs free of politics
  • Legislature 2001
  • Group sues state over felons' voting rights
  • 'We are very proud of him,' Fla. soldier's relative says
  • Around the state

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story
  • tampabay.com

    printer version

    Committee pushes to keep 2 state jobs free of politics

    A bill aimed at the secretary of state is amended to include the attorney general.

    By LUCY MORGAN

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 15, 2001


    TALLAHASSEE -- In the wake of the bitter election recount, many state officials have suggested making the secretary of state's job non-partisan.

    On Wednesday, members of a Senate elections committee decided that the state should extend a ban on political activity to the attorney general as well.

    Sen. Daryl Jones, D-Miami, introduced a bill that would have made the secretary of state's job non-partisan and banned the officeholder from attending political functions of any kind.

    Other members of the committee objected, saying the state's attorney general could be equally compromised by participating in partisan matters while interpreting laws that apply to elections.

    Secretary of State Katherine Harris was widely criticized last year because she was an honorary co-chairwoman of the George W. Bush campaign. She helped interpret election laws pertaining to a bitterly contested recount.

    Attorney General Bob Butterworth, a Democrat who was the Florida chairman for the Al Gore campaign, gave contradictory interpretations of state election laws, but largely escaped criticism.

    At a meeting of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, Jones said he was not attacking Harris, but strongly believes anyone who holds the office should remain impartial.

    Although Jones' original bill would have made the post non-partisan, Sen. Rod Smith, D-Gainesville, offered an amendment that simply requires both officials to stay out of anybody else's political campaign. They could work on their own campaigns.

    "I believe this to be the sole flaw," Smith said. "We had people who were honorary chairmen and everything afterward was questioned."

    It is the perception of bias that was the problem, Smith said.

    "This is absolutely unnecessary," argued Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee. "It is so unappropriate to assume these people are acting unethically."

    The bill did not address the question of county supervisors of elections or members of a canvassing board, but other bills pending in the Senate would require those officials to be non-partisan.

    The committee will take a final vote on Jones' bill next week.

    Committee members unanimously approved a bill that would make it easier to vote an absentee ballot as a convenience, a practice already followed in many counties.

    Recent coverage

    Florida Legislature Session 2001

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
     
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan


    From the Times state desk