Is this new Florida law overly intrusive?

Florida Form 6 requires more detailed financial disclosures from elected officials. More than two dozen municipalities and more than 70 elected officials from across Florida are suing.

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The new Florida Form 6, signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis this year, is facing two lawsuits.

More than two dozen municipalities and more than 70 elected officials from across Florida are part of the lawsuits, which allege the law is “highly intrusive” and unconstitutional.

Several local municipalities in West Orange County are exploring their options as to the possibility of joining the lawsuit. 


Form 6 is a full and public financial disclosure filed by county candidates, including commissioners, constitutional officers, school board members and judges. This form is usually filed directly with the Florida Commission on Ethics, unless it is during the year the office is up for election.

In the past, Florida’s ethics laws have required local elected public officials to disclose their primary sources of employment each year. Officials elected to city and town governments filed a Form 1 disclosure, which required them to list assets and liabilities of more than $10,000, as well as sources of income and property holdings. But it did not require candidates to specify dollar amounts.

However, the new legislation’s form requires net worth, assets and liabilities exceeding $1,000, and an itemized breakdown of all sources of income that exceed $1,000. 

More than 100 elected officials have been reported to have stepped down due to the new law, including a previous council member locally in the town of Windermere.

The first lawsuit was filed Thursday, Feb. 15, in the Leon County Circuit Court.

The complaint, filed in state court, states the form violates city officials’ right to privacy under the Florida Constitution. The lawsuit called the added disclosure “an unwarranted intrusion into the privacy of municipal elected officials” and an unnecessary safety risk. It states the airing of personal financial details could make officials targets of robbery, identity theft and extortion.

A second suit, filed in federal court, contends it violates their right to be free of government compelled speech under the U.S. Constitution. The complaint states the added financial disclosure “does not prevent or even ameliorate” conflicts of interest or public corruption and does not increase public confidence in government.

The complaints both were filed against  Florida Commission on Ethics members who enforce the law. The complaints argue there are less-restrictive means available to accomplish the “compelling state interest” of evaluating conflicts of interest and deterring corruption. 

Officials who fail to file the form can face a civil penalty of up to $20,000 and potential removal from office following an investigation and public hearing, according to the complaints.

Unlike county and state officials, many city officials, primarily in smaller towns and municipalities, receive little or no pay for their service.


At the October Windermere Town Council meeting, former Council Member Molly Rose announced her resignation. She cited the new financial disclosure requirements as the reasoning.

“I was in my 12th year as a Town Council Member and have also held positions in the Development Review Board and Long Range Planning Committee for many years,” she said. “All of these positions were completely volunteer. I believe that the information being requested is an infringement on my family’s privacy. This information becomes public record. So, not only can anyone find out where I live — which they can do now anyway — but also (the law) provides information on what might be found at this residence that is valued at $1,000 or more. So, it creates a greater security risk.”

Rose said she does not see how compiling and releasing this kind of information would highlight any illegal activities by a public official.  

“It’s just a waste of time and resources,” she said. “Maybe there is a reason for the state making this change, but it isn’t to encourage small town governing, in my opinion.”

At the February Town Council meeting, council members opted to have the town attorney draft a resolution to add to the March Town Council agenda pertaining to joining the litigation.

“The Form 6 disclosure requirement is above and beyond current disclosure requirements and an additional barrier to attracting qualified elected leadership for small towns and municipalities,” Mayor Jim O’Brien said. “Our elected leadership receives zero compensation to serve our town and commits an extraordinary amount of time to do so. The town of Windermere has already experienced one resignation from Town Council due to this new requirement. I have asked town staff to explore all options available to amend the current requirement and provide those options for council discussion and possible action.”

In the town of Oakland, Mayor Kathy Stark said the fixed fee of $10,000 to join the lawsuit — regardless of population or fiscal budget size — poses an obstacle. 

“Due to the substantial joining cost, the town is unable to participate but remains keenly interested in the eventual outcome,” she said. 

However, not all are concerned about the new law. 

District 4 School Board Member Pam Gould said she has been required to provide her financial information for the entirety of her time in office. She said although this is not new, she believes some of the questions seem like an overreach.

Orange County District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson said she does not take issue with the new disclosure requirements.

“I cannot speak for those in other positions of municipal government, but I gladly provide any financial information I am asked to disclose,” she said. “(Although) it may feel invasive, we are making decisions that affect the public on a daily basis. Financial disclosure is a tool for the public to make sure that their representatives don’t have ulterior motives when making those choices.”

Winter Garden city commissioners declined to comment. However, in February, City Attorney Kurt A. Ardaman brought the lawsuit to the attention of the commissioners. Ardaman said the commission can opt to join as a whole commission or as an individual commissioner. The commission will continue to have discussions with Ardaman regarding this topic.

Officials in the city of Ocoee did not respond to requests for comment by press time Tuesday, Feb. 27.



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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