University of Florida Blocks Professors from Testifying in Voting Access Case; Irregularities in GOP State Representative Jackie Toledo’s Personal Financial Disclosures

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Statement from FDP Chair on the University of Florida Blocking Professors from Testifying in Case Challenging New Law that Restricts Voting Access

Last week three University of Florida Political Science professors, Daniel Smith, Michael McDonald and Sharon Austin, were denied permission by the university to serve as experts in a case challenging Florida’s controversial Senate Bill 90 in court. That bill, which was passed by the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature after the 2020 election, ushered in changes that have restricted voting access in the state.

In response to Professor Smith’s request, the dean of UF’s college of arts and science, David Richardson, wrote: “Outside activities that may pose a conflict of interest to the executive branch of the State of Florida create a conflict for the University of Florida,’’
In view of this chilling development, Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz issued the following statement:
“It is clear that DeSantis’ dark, authoritarian hand is behind this worrying decision on the part of the University of Florida. With every day that passes, the rights of Floridians are being further eroded by a cynical Governor with a clear dictatorial bent who will stop at nothing to shield himself and his cronies from scrutiny or accountability.

“This kind of partisan move violates not just the First Amendment rights of professors, it robs our courts of the ability to consistently count on the testimony of some of Florida’s finest experts on matters of great importance to our state. This is a precedent that simply cannot stand.

“I call on the University of Florida to side with our nation’s democratic ideals, reverse its position on these requests and allow these professors to testify freely.  Our colleges and universities should not be a party to the silencing of their faculties in this manner, and even less so when it pertains to testimony in a case that could impact voting access for our state’s citizens.”

ICYMI: Ethics Commission Finds Irregularities in GOP State Representative Jackie Toledo’s Personal Financial Disclosures

On October 29, 2021, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) “has admitted to irregularities in two of her personal financial disclosures following a complaint and investigation by the state Commission on Ethics.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Ethics Commission investigator Robert Malone upheld two accusations from the complaint:
On her 2017 disclosure form, Toledo failed to report as income her profits from the $540,000 sale of a house she and her former husband owned.

On her 2018 form, Toledo said her assets would be listed in a sheet attached to the form, but there wasn’t one.”
Unfortunately it is likely that Representative Toledo will never be held fully accountable for these irregularities. It is up to House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, “a political ally of Toledo who was listed as honorary host of her 2022 re-election campaign kickoff” to determine what penalties, if any, will be imposed.

To read the full story, please click here.

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