State Rep. Marlene O’Toole won’t be punished for violation of ethics law

State Rep. Marlene O’Toole, R-The Villages, will escape punishment for a violation of state ethics law.

That is the verdict in the case involving her paid position with Take Stock in Children and her vote on the 2013-2014 budget, according to a letter from the chairman of the Florida House of Representatives Rules, Calendar & Ethics Committee.

The complaint against O’Toole was raised by political rival Will Pruitt who had run against her for the House seat.

The Florida Commission on Ethics determined that O’Tool had violated state law when she voted on the budget. The commission found that O’Toole did not disclose her dual role as chief operating officer of the non-profit “Take Stock in Children” and vice chair of the House education appropriations committee that approved $6 million for the organization in the 2013-14 budget.

Take Stock in Children was also awarded an additional $9.1 million from the state’s $200 million mortgage settlement. O’Toole voted on both matters. In neither case did she disclose that she was paid $50,000 a year by the Take Stock in Children.

The punishment was left up to the House.

Ritch Workman, a fellow Republican from Melbourne, wrote that even though O’Toole’s disclosure was not filed within the required 15 days of the votes, “it was filed months before the complaint” against her was filed