Editorial: Official reports are crucial, Commissioner Henning

Collier County Commissioner Tom Henning acknowledges the Florida Ethics Commission is reviewing a number of the financial disclosure forms he has filed with the state during the past 10 years.

He stops short of saying there is an immediate problem.

He intends to wait until the ethics commission reviews the forms, all public record, and renders findings before he takes any action, corrective or otherwise.

The public record shows that Henning made a $71,000 profit when he sold a Golden Gate Estates residential lot in 2006 after owning it for a year. The public record also shows that he did not list that as income on the state-required disclosure forms. Also missing from the income column of disclosure forms is the $286,500 he received for the sale of an auto repair business a decade ago.

Other discrepancies were pointed in a complaint filed by a former county commission candidate with the ethics commission. It's all public record and it raises valid questions on what has occurred.

Honest mistakes? Careless accounting? No big deal?

The answers to the first two questions are yet to come.

The answer to the third is simple.

Clear, accurate and timely filing of financial disclosure forms by our elected officials is a must. Failure to do so is a big deal.

While oft criticized as an inconvenience and a privacy intrusion that dissuades talented leaders from seeking elected office in Florida, these disclosure laws provide a valuable service to taxpayers. They need to be taken seriously.

They are a key line of defense against public corruption.

They need to be filled out correctly and precisely – the first time. They should not result in head scratching, unanswered questions and an interpretation from an appointed panel in Tallahassee.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 17

common_tator writes:

Let's have an amen to that. Common prudence would dictate that a sitting commissioner avoid purchases of investment land in his home county. Ordinary scruples would dictate that the buying and selling of any such land would be carefully recorded in disclosure forms and every penny accounted for. Flipping such land to a developer with extensive activities throughout the county at a price nearly double his purchase price shouts reckless disregard for the public trust. If all his omissions and mischaracterizations were mistakes, how the heck does he expect us to believe that he can read a public budget or see that our tax dollars are accounted for? His own house is in foreclosure despite his full employment on our tax dollars. This whole situation miserably fails the sniff test. My mom would say, "Don't swallow that. If it smells, it isn't safe."

tru213 writes:

Collier citizens are very interested in knowing the financial disclosures and business transactions of Commissioners Coyle, Coletta, and Fiala for the past 10-12 years as well. Of particular importance are their initial financial disclosure filings when they first ran for office.

These public records should not be difficult for NDN to obtain as Gina Downs was able to obtain Commissioner Henning's.

Collier citizens would very much like to see BEFORE the Primary Election some thorough and objective investigative reporting by NDN on the financial disclosures and business transactions of Coyle, Coletta, and Fiala for the past 10-12 years. It would be viewed as being unfair, biased and unprofessional if NDN publishes them after the election.

TheyPavedParadise2 writes:

Now wait just a minute,
I seem to remember a similar ethics charge against a sitting commissioner not too long ago. Since NDN seems to determine which one is a big deal, does anyone remember an ethics charge against Jim Coletta a few years ago regarding campaign finances? Lets have the details of that and see where it goes.

intense writes:

There are alleged ethics violations and then there are alleged ethics violations. Some are credible and many are just for harrassment.

Given the details in these six violations, it looks like THIS ethics violation has merit. Apparently enough merit for the newspaper to print it and follow up on it. Otherwise, the newspaper wouldn't go out on a limb if it looked like the charges were/are unfounded.

Instead of pointing the finger at other commissioners, why not OBTAIN the public records that you think (Hope???) will show wrongdoing on the part of other commissioners. ANY interested citizen can do what these citizens did.

Instead of trying to take the heat off of Henning for his wrongdoing, why not put your efforts into PROVING that there is something amiss in other commissioner financial dealings.

This attempt to malign others just because you HOPE something is wrong is tiresome. Sounds a lot like a Hiller tactic. And we all see how ineffective that is.

Besides, how do you know they haven't ALREADY look into the financial records of ALL commissioners? They seem very thorough.

angrytxpyr writes:

Now would Ole Rip Van coyle be required to provide a list of OreGone real estate clients or will he get a pass on some real sweet deals he turned out there. While Gina Downs may have been able to get ole Icky Toms stuff what about TAXPAYER money being used for what strongly resembles the purchase of an endorsement and campaign funds for her FAILED election bid??? Yeh didn't all of Collier County TAXPAYERS fund the renourishment of a private beach just before some Marco Island women's group endorsed her and handed over the cash??? Yeh if Tom Henning forgot to list the income from the sale of a business TEN YEARS ago then why is it coming up now??? If he made a profit of $71,000 for selling some swamp land in 2006 why has that taken so long to percolate to the headline??? There may or may not be legitimate explanations for both issues. Did he reinvested the $71,000? Did he use the $286,500 to pay off the business debt or creditors of the business? Was he the sole owner of the business and property??? I'm not defending Henning or condemning the person who filed the Ethics complaint but what I am trying to point out here is that this Editorial is in incomplete article that does nothing more than irresponsibly sling MUDD at a County Commissioner who is running for reelection. The NDN seems to know no boundaries to the the damage they try to inflict on people apparently because they want to increase sales and readership. Try printing accurate, complete and non biased news articles for a change and you might see some growth in your numbers fellas and girls!!!! The only thing worse than the politics in this town is this rag that prints their own version of news.

swfl_ff writes:

I have to agree with some of the others here. Hey NDN how about you publish ALL the commissioners campaign and financial records. I'd love to see old Coyle's and Colletta's records. I bet if you dug into them you would more than likely find some nice "mistakes" there too.

If Henning did wrong here then I won't defend him and let the chips fall as they may. But I still find it suspicious that people connected to his opponent went out of their way to expose this.

I have to go along with angry taxpayer on this one. The NDN is protecting their "chosen ones". I say it's time for FULL disclosure from ALL of the candidates.

TheyPavedParadise2 writes:

intense,
You could really do better than that. Why not search in 2008 and you can find the article too. Ilene Stackel wrote all about it. People really do make mistakes.

lovemycat writes:

The first front page article laid out six distinct omissions (let's just call them lies, OK?) on Henning's financial disclosure papers to the state. It happened repeatedly over the entire time he has been an elected official.

In that same article, Henning threatens to SUE a concerned citizen IF they file charges. (THAT should be a story all alone.) Why does he think he is above the law and should SUE citizens for even THINKING of pointing out 'mistakes' (Let's just call them LIES, OK?

The next front page story Henning admits he MAY have made a few errors (let's just call them LIES, OK?) If the first report is totally accurate, it looks like he made almost half a million dollars in 'errors' ahhhhh, heck, LIES.

The editorial page writes a 'shame on you' piece and says there is NO excuse for Henning's LIES.

And, many of you can only 'shoot the messenger' or 'point the finger' and imply other elected officials have done the same or worse.

I don't get it. Those who are ALWAYS making accusations and looking for wrong doing around every corner, calling ALL commissioners crooks ... they finally have concrete proof on one commissioner and all they do is ignore it, downplay it, or defend it.

If you give Henning a pass for this, you need to shut up because you don't really care about keeping politicians accountable and clean.

I guess this is proof that you get the politicians you deserve.

Crackroots writes:

Oh wait I have an idea for all you lazy paid bloggers. Why don't YOU do what Gina Downs did. Go do the research yourself and stop crying to the understaffed and underpaid NDN. Or just go crawl back to Hiller and Henning and keep playing dirty.

manforpeace writes:

Well there you go Mr Editor, most seem to think you and the NDN don't do your job well..
The NDN is in the bag for the chosen few.
Coyle, Oregon, Colletta doing what he does... Nothing to see here, right?

TheyPavedParadise2 writes:

in response to lovemycat:

The first front page article laid out six distinct omissions (let's just call them lies, OK?) on Henning's financial disclosure papers to the state. It happened repeatedly over the entire time he has been an elected official.

In that same article, Henning threatens to SUE a concerned citizen IF they file charges. (THAT should be a story all alone.) Why does he think he is above the law and should SUE citizens for even THINKING of pointing out 'mistakes' (Let's just call them LIES, OK?

The next front page story Henning admits he MAY have made a few errors (let's just call them LIES, OK?) If the first report is totally accurate, it looks like he made almost half a million dollars in 'errors' ahhhhh, heck, LIES.

The editorial page writes a 'shame on you' piece and says there is NO excuse for Henning's LIES.

And, many of you can only 'shoot the messenger' or 'point the finger' and imply other elected officials have done the same or worse.

I don't get it. Those who are ALWAYS making accusations and looking for wrong doing around every corner, calling ALL commissioners crooks ... they finally have concrete proof on one commissioner and all they do is ignore it, downplay it, or defend it.

If you give Henning a pass for this, you need to shut up because you don't really care about keeping politicians accountable and clean.

I guess this is proof that you get the politicians you deserve.

Maybe you should actually look at the questions that were raised instead of shooting from the hip. It seems that everyone is capable of making mistakes. Coletta admitted it when he was reported for making mistakes on his reporting too. When the findings come back from the ethics commission we will all find out what the deal is. Yes it is important to hold our elected officials accountable but it would seem that you could avoid a lawsuit for defamation or worse by having ALL of the information before you squeeze the trigger. Henning would be totally within his right to legally pursue this if it is found to be baseless.
No passes for any elected officials.

buffettfan writes:

I agree with Crackroots.
There seem to be a LOT of people on these boards who DON"T REALLY care about factual exposure of wrongdoing. Instead, they want to carp on endlessly about all the 'crooks' and the 'dirty' politicians. All without ANY FACTS.
Somebody takes the time to get FACTS, and exposes ACTUAL wrongdoing. What is the response? Do they call for Henning to resign or for further digging into his questionable finances? No, they want to point fingers and wag their tongues some more about the OTHER politicians. Or they blame the newspaper for not having a full time staff of investigative reporters.
Get off your behinds if you are so certain there is something wrong. Prove it like these people did.
I'l really sick to death of all the whiners who produce nothing factual.
Then something factual comes along and all they do is keep chasing ghosts.
ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!

Pastalover writes:

Crackroots and buffetfan are SPOT ON.

It's real easy to sit back and let the baseless accusations fly. They just keep on coming with the false accusations.

Finally.. Accusations that are NOT baseless and where is the outrage?

Apparently they don't REALLY want elected officials with integrity, they just want to drone on and on about how ALL politicians are corrupt.

You've just been handed corruption on a silver platter. What do you want to do with it? How many of you have contacted the ethics committee to demand that they take appropriate action?

How many have called for Henning to step down?

How many have TOLD Henning they don't accept his lies?

I'll tell you how many ... ZERO.

youngandhot writes:

The editorial says it in a nutshell:

'Clear, accurate and timely filing of financial disclosure forms by our elected officials is a must. Failure to do so is a big deal.'

TheyPavedParadise2 writes:

in response to Pastalover:

Crackroots and buffetfan are SPOT ON.

It's real easy to sit back and let the baseless accusations fly. They just keep on coming with the false accusations.

Finally.. Accusations that are NOT baseless and where is the outrage?

Apparently they don't REALLY want elected officials with integrity, they just want to drone on and on about how ALL politicians are corrupt.

You've just been handed corruption on a silver platter. What do you want to do with it? How many of you have contacted the ethics committee to demand that they take appropriate action?

How many have called for Henning to step down?

How many have TOLD Henning they don't accept his lies?

I'll tell you how many ... ZERO.

Quick question,
would you apologize for your comments if the findings come back NOT as you expect?
I don't believe that Downs would but I do believe that Barlow would. He is a good man.

ARG (Inactive) writes:

Nothing would happen to crock Hennings. He will find the how to cover it and ht NDN would help him.

By the way check the organization that is endorsing him and why?

muleman1 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

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