County Commissioner John Druzbick has taken steps to amend financial forms that set the record straight on his prior financial investments.
Druzbick said he also had assurance from three lawyers, including one from the state ethics commission, that the worst he can be accused of is failing to list a prior piece of property as an asset on a Form 6 disclosure document he signed when he ran for office in 2008.
That form lists candidates' assets and liabilities, including any real estate and investment transactions.
"What it comes down to is, because of the note was in my wife's name, it is not a liability to me and I did not have to fill it out on Form 6," Druzbick said. "But the asset should have been recorded, because if my wife passes on, I now would have 100 percent of the asset.
"So we are now in the process of amending the financial forms and they are being sent back to Tallahassee with the explanation and the recommendation that have come from all the attorneys."
Wayne Rubinas, an attorney with the Florida Commission on Ethics, said he explained to Druzbick what the state considers a liability and an asset and what should be entered on the disclosure form, and that the commissioner indicated to him he would act accordingly.
Rubinas said it is not uncommon for candidates to have questions about what constitutes an asset or liability, and they can amend the Form 6 at any time.
Often, the forms and instructions are laden with administrative rules and "can be difficult to understand," he said.
Druzbick said his political opponents are trying to use this minor reporting incident as a way to make him look bad in an election year.
Druzbick said he had two homes in Daytona Beach, both of which went through foreclosure while he has served on the county commission.
One of those properties was listed on Druzbick's real estate and property disclosure form. The other, an oceanfront condo, was not — but only because his name was not on the note, Druzbick said.
Druzbick's name is on the deed for the condominium in question and also on the mortgage, but that did not make him liable for the loan, he said.
Besides, Druzbick questions what he would have to gain from not declaring one property and not the other.
"I listed the other one, why wouldn't I have listed that one?" he asked. "The liability was not mine, and that was why I did not list it," he added, saying Form 6 "is specifically for my liabilities and assets."
The condo was "an investment that did not work well, just like many investments people may have made in real estate, stocks, 401(k)s that have all lost money" in the last several years, he said.
Kerrie Stillman, spokeswoman for the Florida Commission on Ethics, said Friday that her department does not investigate any complaints such as this unless one is initiated and, even then, there are no criminal ramifications.
The commission issues civil fines, she said.
Stillman said the ethics commission has not ruled specifically on listing foreclosures on financial forms.
Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Hernando County Republican Executive Committee, said "it seems that John is taking the appropriate steps to remedy the oversight."
"If it's good enough for the ethics commission attorney, then it should be good enough for the voters," Ingoglia said.