§ 106.25 Reports of alleged violations to Florida Elections Commission; disposition of findings.
Overview of Statute
This statute governs the process by which the Florida Elections Commission investigates reports of alleged violations.
(1) Jurisdiction to investigate and determine violations of this chapter and chapter 104 is vested in the Florida Elections Commission; however, nothing in this section limits the jurisdiction of any other officers or agencies of government empowered by law to investigate, act upon, or dispose of alleged violations of this code.
(4) The commission shall undertake a preliminary investigation to determine if the facts alleged in a sworn complaint or a matter initiated by the division constitute probable cause to believe that a violation has occurred.
(f) At its meeting to determine probable cause, the commission may continue its determination to allow further investigation; may order the issuance of a public report of its investigation if it finds no probable cause to believe that there has been a violation of this chapter or chapter 104, concluding the matter before it; may order a final, public hearing of the complaint if it finds probable cause to believe that there has been a violation of this chapter or chapter 104; or may take such other action as it deems necessary to resolve the complaint, consistent with due process of law. In making its determination, the commission may consider:
If the commission finds probable cause, the commission shall determine what charges shall be at issue.
In a case where probable cause is found, the commission shall make a preliminary determination to consider the matter or to refer the matter to the state attorney for the judicial circuit in which the alleged violation occurred. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, the commission may, at its discretion, dismiss any complaint at any stage of disposition if it determines that the public interest would not be served by proceeding further, in which case the commission shall issue a public report stating with particularity its reasons for the dismissal.
(7) Every sworn complaint filed pursuant to this chapter with the commission, every investigation and investigative report or other paper of the commission with respect to a violation of this chapter or chapter 104, and every proceeding of the commission with respect to a violation of this chapter or chapter 104 is confidential, is exempt from the provisions of ss. 119.07(1) and286.011, and is exempt from publication in the Florida Administrative Register of any notice or agenda with respect to any proceeding relating to such violation, except under the following circumstances:
However, a complainant is not bound by the confidentiality provisions of this section. In addition, confidentiality may be waived in writing by the person against whom the complaint has been filed or the investigation has been initiated. If a finding of probable cause in a case is entered within 30 days prior to the date of the election with respect to which the alleged violation occurred, such finding and the proceedings and records relating to such case shall not become public until noon of the day following such election. When two or more persons are being investigated by the commission with respect to an alleged violation of this chapter or chapter 104, the commission may not publicly enter a finding of probable cause or no probable cause in the case until a finding of probable cause or no probable cause for the entire case has been determined. However, once the confidentiality of any case has been breached, the person or persons under investigation have the right to waive the confidentiality of the case, thereby opening up the proceedings and records to the public. Any person who discloses any information or matter made confidential by the provisions of this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
s. 25, ch. 73-128; s. 11, ch. 74-200; s. 60, ch. 77-175; s. 3, ch. 78-403; s. 1, ch. 82-46; s. 2, ch. 83-265; s. 39, ch. 84-302; s. 20, ch. 89-256; ss. 5, 14, 15, ch. 90-338; s. 21, ch. 90-360; s. 18, ch. 91-107; s. 5, ch. 91-429; s. 26, ch. 96-406; s. 49, ch. 97-13; s. 34, ch. 98-129; s. 21, ch. 2004-252; s. 48, ch. 2007-30; s. 16, ch. 2010-167; s. 70, ch. 2011-40; s. 1, ch. 2013-14.
- Campaign Finance
1. Definition for Filing Officer
The person before whom a candidate qualifies or the agency or officer with whom a political committee or an electioneering communications organization registers. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(11).
2. Definition for Issue
A proposition that is required by the State Constitution, by law or resolution of the Legislature, or by the charter, ordinance, or resolution of a political subdivision of this state to be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection at an election, or a proposition for which a petition is circulated in order to have such proposition placed on the ballot at an election. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(13).
3. Definition for Person
An individual or a corporation, association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock company, club, organization, estate, trust, business trust, syndicate, or other combination of individuals having collective capacity. The term includes a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(14).
4. Definition for Division
The Division of Elections of the Department of State. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(8).
5. Definition for Election
Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).
6. Definition for Candidate
Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:
Case Name: Browning v. Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc., PAC
Citation: 29 So.3d 1053
Case Summary: Browning v. Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc., PAC held that the statute establishing petition signature revocation procedures violated the citizen initiative provision of the state constitution and as such were unconstitutional, since it was neither neutral nor nondiscriminatory, nor was it necessary to ensure ballot integrity. The case further held that the state supreme court had mandatory appellate jurisdiction because the district court of appeal implemented regulations that impacted the citizen initiative process.
Case Name: Jennings v. Florida Elections Commission
Citation: 932 So.2d 609
Case Summary: Jennings v. Florida Elections Commission held that an amendment to s. 106.25, which expressly restricted the Commission's ability to investigate alleged violations to only those found in a sworn complaint, meant that the Commission was unable to proceed with specific complaints under 106.021 after the amendment was added.
Case Name: Diaz de la Portilla v. Florida Elections Commission
Citation: 857 So.2d 913
Case Summary: Diaz de la Portilla v. Florida Elections Commission held that the standard for chapter 106 cases is clear and convincing evidence, not a preponderance of the evidence. Also, candidates are allowed to rely on their campaign treasurers to maintain campaign records and prepare treasurer's reports, as long as all contributions and expenditures are routed through the campaign depository and the treasurer is actually qualified.
Case Name: Florida Elections Commission v. Blair
Citation: 52 So.3d 9
Case Summary: Florida Elections Commission v. Blair held that the Commission did not exceed its grant of authority in adopting a rule defining the words "willful" and "willfully" for a campaign finance statute, and the adoption of the rule did not contravene the language in the law being implemented.
Case Name: Florida Elections Commission v. Davis
Citation: 44 So.3d 1211
Case Summary: Florida Elections Commission v. Davis held that ALJ did not have statutory authority to levy civil penalties against a candidate who violated Florida election laws.
Regulations & Guidance
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 23, Division of Elections
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 24, Florida Elections Commission
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 211, By Florida Elections Commission
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 212, By Florida Elections Commission-Procedure
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 216, False swearing or declaration
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 231, Political activities of state, county, and municipal officers and employees
Fla. Jur. 2d Records and Recording Acts s 131, Miscellaneous records
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:106, Special state issues