It was a shocker of an announcement at the end of the Town Council meeting Monday. Councilman Bill Veach said Monday will most likely be his last meeting after he announced he would not be filling out a new state-mandated ethics and financial-disclosure form.
Back in May, Florida state lawmakers passed a law requiring all municipal elected officials to fill out Form 6 by the end of the year or face a $25,000 fine if they don’t.
Before the new law, elected officials had to fill out a different form (Form 1), which asks for sources of income, property, assets and liabilities and businesses of which they own a share. It did not ask for specific dollar amounts. Form 6 requires elected officials to list assets and liabilities of more than $1,000 and specific dollar amounts and it asks for net income and salary.
The bill passed both the House and The Senate nearly unanimously. The governor and his cabinet, all state senators and representatives, judges, county commissioners, school board members and sheriffs in Florida have to fill out Form 6.
Veach said he’s not filling out the form and plans to resign before the January Town Council meeting because the form is an intrusive invasion of privacy. Although the form does not ask for bank account numbers, Veach said it is an invitation to a hacker. And, he said, revealing the personal information is an invitation for a burglar to know where to go. “I’m not very comfortable with exposing my financial information, and that of my family, to the public.”
Veach does not want the public to see his financial information. “We’re a small town. Everybody knows somebody’s business to some degree. The coconut telegraph works very well on our little island. That’s a huge concern for me. This is what I feel is an exposure to a risk to exposure that I’m not comfortable dictating that my wife and my family takes.”
Earlier this month Naples City Council member Beth Petrunoff resigned for the same reason Veach says he plans to. Several other small-town elected officials have also resigned across the state.
Veach’s term expires at the end of 2024 and he has been telling friends on the beach, including at least one current town council member, that he did not plan to run for re-election. If Veach does submit his resignation the Town Council would fill the seat by appointment. The seat would then come up for election in 2024. When this happens in other municipalities, sometimes the elected body chooses to appoint someone they know will not run for the seat to avoid giving that person an advantage in an upcoming election.
You can check out the controversial Form 6 HERE.