By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
Gov. Ron DeSantis sure loves Glenton “Glen” Gilzean Jr. – so much in fact that he’s appointed Gilzean to the Florida Commission on Ethics three times, in August 2019, December 2020 and again in August 2022.
And each time Gilzean’s appointment was later confirmed by the Florida Senate, most recently in April.
Perhaps DeSantis didn’t notice, nor apparently did each of Florida’s 40 senators, their staffs and attorneys, but Gilzean’s reappointment until June 2024 is against the ethics commission’s, er, ethical rules.
It says so right there in the first paragraph of the ethics commission’s “Statement of Organization and Operation,” right after describing which politician gets to appoint each of its nine members. “No member holds any public employment. All members serve two-year terms and may not serve more than two full terms in succession…”
But that statement of organization is six pages long. So to engage those who don’t like long reads, the prohibitions are repeated on the commission’s “About Us” page: “No member may hold any public employment or serve more than two full terms in succession.”
DESANTIS, SENATE HAVE EXPLAINING TO DO
So, Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Senate have some explaining to do as to how and why they missed such an obvious impediment to Gilzean’s continued service on the ethics commission. And what they are going to do about it, if anything.
Republican DeSantis’s office did not respond to a detailed request for comment as the governor continues his quest to become the 47th president of the United States.
Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, the chairman of the Ethics and Elections Committee that vetted Gilzean and recommended his confirmation to the full Senate, likewise did not respond to a detailed request for comment.
The governor’s and the Senate’s failures in addressing Gilzean’s reappointment to the ethics commission isn’t the public’s only problem with Gilzean remaining as head of the constitutionally created entity that stands as “the guardian of standards of conduct for officers and employees of Florida and its political subdivisions” and investigates “complaints of the breach of public trust by officers and employees.”
On Monday, Florida Bulldog first reported on Gilzean’s conflict of interest in accepting in May a $400,000 government job while also holding office as an unsalaried member of the ethics commission. The job: administrator of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) – formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District when that governing authority was under the control of the Walt Disney Company.
A CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Ethics commissioner Jim Waldman told Florida Bulldog in a Friday interview that he knew of no prohibition on ethics commissioners holding public employment. After being told later about the language in the commission’s statement of organization and on its website, Waldman said, Gilzean’s public employment “does appear to be a conflict under the rules of the commission.”
Gilzean, who was raised in Broward but now lives in Ocoee near Orlando, got the job via Gov. DeSantis, who handpicked the CFTOD’s five-member board of supervisors, which in turn hired Gilzean.
DeSantis assumed that power via the Legislature, which helped him seize control of the special taxing district by passing bills that changed its name and ended Disney’s control. That happened following DeSantis’s high-profile scrap with Disney after the company came out publicly in opposition to the controversial Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Disney has sued DeSantis, the CFTOD board and Gilzean, alleging it was victimized by a “targeted campaign of government retaliation – orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech.” The CFTOD board has countersued.