Ex-Florida Ethics Commission attorney comes forward to Leon County Commission
Caroline Klancke, former deputy executive director and general counsel for the Florida Ethics Commission, is a candidate for District 5 seat of the Leon County commission.
Klancke resigned from his position on the ethics commission on March 31 to campaign for the county position. The first-time nominee is among six people who have filed a seat so far, which was left open when County Commissioner Kristin Dozier announced last year that she would not run again.
“I’m running because District 5 needs to be represented by an experienced public servant working for the benefit of all residents,” Klancke said. “And I’m running to make sure Leon County exercises ethical and responsible stewardship of our public resources.”
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Klancke, 41, grew up in the Daytona Beach area and came to Tallahassee in 1991 to attend Florida State University, where she double majored in English and history. She earned a law degree at the University of Miami in 2006 before returning to Tallahassee.
She has been involved in ethics since her law school days, when she was a Greenberg Traurig Endowed Fellow for the Center for Ethics and Public Service. After moving to Tallahassee, she worked as senior counsel and ethics officer for the Public Service Commission, joining the state Ethics Commission in 2014.
At the commission, she said she and other lawyers worked on the phone daily to help public officials act ethically and within the law, she said. She has written advisory opinions and handled complaints alleging unethical behavior by officials and employees.
“It was one of the things that made me want to run,” she said. “Because I have seen the corrosive effects that corruption can have on local communities, including my own.”
Klancke’s candidacy follows the federal government’s prosecution of former City Commissioner Scott Maddox, his close aide Paige Carter-Smith and businessman John “JT” Burnette for public corruption. All three were sentenced last year to stints in federal prisons.
She said she would work to give the county code of ethics more “teeth” by adding provisions from a constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in 2018. Amendment 12 of that year prohibited public officials from obtaining a “disproportionate advantage” for their family members or their own businesses.
“I think we can learn from past issues,” she said. “I have spent my career enforcing the state code of ethics and training county and city commissioners to help keep our government honest. As county commissioner, I would work with my fellow commissioners and the county attorney to ensure that future failures would be avoided…before they became a problem.
Klancke said she’s not supporting $27 million in Blueprint 2020 funds for Doak Campbell Stadium, a project she says falls outside of the sales tax program’s mission and goals. She said she supports recent discussions at the Blueprint board about getting an advisory opinion from the attorney general on whether the agency’s management committee should meet in public. .
“I think a lot of the public frustration with Doak Campbell’s funding decision stems from an arcane project selection process that I agree needs to be exposed.” , she said.
She said she would “redouble” the county’s efforts with the city to expand and maintain freeways, walking and biking trails and sidewalks. It has also proposed a public/private partnership with Amazon to provide employee transportation to its under-construction fulfillment center.
Klancke praised the millions of dollars the county has taken out from the federal government to help small businesses and nonprofits during the pandemic. She said even without this funding, the county should continue to invest to help grow small businesses and attract outside businesses.
She said she waited to file her candidacy until she was done helping the Ethics Commission through the legislative session that ended last month. She does not plan to hire a professional campaign team.
“We are a grassroots campaign, nimble team of volunteers who truly believe in good governance,” Klancke said. “And it’s thanks to these volunteers that we’re going to spread the word.”
The other candidates for the District 5 seat are Paula DeBoles Johnson, David Hawkins, David O’Keefe, Jay Revell and Dustin Ryan Rivest.
Contact Jeff Burlew at [email protected] or follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter.
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