TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Senator Joe Gruters, who also serves as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, is calling for an investigation and review after Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried made a six-figure amendment to her 2018 financial disclosure form filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics.
It was the second time Fried amended the report and came four days before announcing she entered the 2022 race for governor.
Gruters sent a letter Friday to Chairwoman Kathleen Passidomo of the Senate Rules Committee and Chairwoman Erin Grall of the House Public Integrity & Elections Committee requesting a review of Igniting Florida, LLC’s lobbying compensation reports.
Referring to Fried's company, Igniting Florida, LLC, as a lobbying firm, Gruters said "Both as a lobbyist and as Commissioner of Agriculture, Nikki Fried has promoted the interests of marijuana distributors."
"Based on the apparent discrepancies between Fried’s multiple amendments to her Financial Disclosure Forms and the lobbying compensation reports she filed with the Legislature, I request your Committees to use all available resources and powers to immediately review and audit Igniting Florida, LLC’s accounts, bills, receipts, computer records, books, papers, and other documents and records necessary to substantiate the compensation reported to the Florida Legislature and certified as true and complete by Fried," Gruters wrote.
If the committee reviews the matter, under Florida law, the penalty could include "a fine of not more than $5,000, reprimand, censure, probation, or prohibition from lobbying for a period of time not to exceed 24 months.”
In addition, Florida law provides that anyone who knowingly fails to disclose legislative lobbying compensation amounts, or who knowingly provides false information on any report—commits a noncriminal infraction, punishable by a fine up to $5,000. A final determination of any penalty would be made by a majority of each legislative body.