Following the announcement that Gov. Rick Scott today signed into law HB 629, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam issued the following statement:
“Collectively, thousands of charities throughout Florida have a positive impact on our communities, from supporting the local Little League to funding research to find a cure for cancer. But recent reports of fraud and deception among charities in Florida severely damaged our state's reputation of goodwill. This law will weed out the bad actors who are defrauding generous givers and thus bring integrity back to Florida's network of reputable charities. Thank you to Gov. Scott for signing this important bill, and to Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Jim Boyd for their leadership.”
The law will:
- Ban organizations that have violated certain laws in other states from soliciting funds in Florida.
- Prohibit felons from soliciting funds for charity.
- Require professional solicitors who operate like telemarketers to provide fingerprints for background checks if they collect sensitive financial information, submit scripts used to conduct solicitations and report the percentage of contributions collected that will be provided to the charity.
- Require a charity that receives more than $1 million, but spends less than 25 percent on its cause, to provide detailed information, including board members and family relationships between board members and staff.
- Increase fines for fraudulent or deceptive acts in violation of the law.
The bill, filed by Sen. Brandes (SB 638) in the Senate and Rep. Boyd (HB 629) in the House, also creates an interactive online database where consumers can access the information on charities, including leadership, location, contact information, financial reports and any violations.